Shoot your shot

Let's go Raptors, clap clap clapclapclap

A few months ago, after a few particularly good games by former Raptor Jonas Valančiūnas in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform, a predictable thing happened: people started to wonder if the Raptors made a mistake by swapping the Lithuanian big man (and Delon Wright and C.J. Miles) for Marc Gasol. Jonathan, in particular, was pretty cheesed at the narrative, and I didn’t blame him; trading a good offensive centre for a good all-around centre and then bitching (or at least wondering aloud) about that trade when the good offensive centre does what good offensive centres do — score and board a bunch — doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, fast-forward to now. It’s pretty goddamn hard to imagine Toronto prevailing in their slugfest of a series against Philadelphia without Marc Gasol doing yeomanlike work against Joel Embiid, who now gets to rock his baby on an airplane (or whatever) at home for the rest of the postseason. So, yeah, with all apologies to Valančiūnas, a guy we both have the utmost respect for, there is now definitive proof that the trade worked pretty much exactly how it was supposed to work for both teams — one in the middle of a quick rebuild, one trying to make the most of its window to win a chip.

We were going to hit you with a statistical comparison of Embiid’s regular-season numbers vs. his numbers vs. Gasol, but the only statistic you need to know is that Gasol’s team won the Toronto/Philadelphia series one time and Embiid’s team won the Toronto/Philadelphia series zero times. Beat that with a stick. (DJ)

Quotable Notables

“He’s a quick study. It only took him seven years to learn how to hit that pitch.” —Madison Bumgarner, after serving up a donger to his old adversary Yasiel Puig

Quizembe Mutombo

The Philadelphia 76ers won two games this season via game-winning buzzer-beaters. Who made both of them?

Kawhi me a river (of joy)

As Raptors fans, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that holy shit, we still can’t believe Kawhi hit that shot, at the buzzer, over Joel Embiid, to win a Game 7, at home!

That said, we weren’t the only ones in a state of disbelief on Sunday night. NBA superstars are just like us when they see something crazytown bananapants.

Why would a raptor fear a deer?

The Raptors’ second-ever trip to the Eastern Conference finals begins tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, owners of the league’s best regular-season record. After that weird rollercoaster ride of a series against the 76ers, we are feeling less worried about this series. That’s not meant as a diss as much as it’s a statement that we’ve seen enough of this team, and of Kawhi, to feel as though his decision to return or sign elsewhere in free agency is not hinging solely on this playoff run anymore. So there’s that tension gone, at least.

You get your choice of topping: This series doesn’t have the same weird size-related mismatches we saw in the last series, where the 76ers kept sending very tall, very long lineups against our tandem of six-foot-nothing point guards. Sure, Milwaukee’s guards are physical, but so are Toronto’s. And if you’re a disciple of “regression to the mean” like we are, you feel confident that the Raptors will start finding their shot (Lowry, Siakam, Ibaka, and Green are all shooting well below their season averages from three-point range).

The toppings contain potassium benzoate: Giannis Antetokounmpo is simply an unstoppable force on both ends of the floor. The Raptors have struggled at times against role players like George Hill and Nikola Mirotić — especially Hill, who becomes Kobe Bryant when he plays Toronto in the playoffs. See also: Milwaukee won the regular-season head-to-head battle, taking three out of four games.

Hit the links

Quizembe Mutombo: Answer

Jimmy Butler

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