Sports: Raptors are winning the battle of centres with a defence that has stifled Orlando’s Vucevic - PressFrom - Canada

SportsRaptors are winning the battle of centres with a defence that has stifled Orlando’s Vucevic

13:06  18 april  2019
13:06  18 april  2019 Source:

Raptors will face Orlando in first round of NBA playoffs

Raptors will face Orlando in first round of NBA playoffs The dust has settled and the Raptors have a first-round playoff date with the Orlando Magic. 

22 — a nine-game win streak — the Raptors will need to match Tuesday’s defensive effort that, particularly in Toronto has thrown a lasso around Orlando ’ s all-star centre Nikola Vucevic The Raptors ’ assists have skyrocketed since Gasol was added in February. And a few times on Tuesday

Vucevic is Orlando ’ s best player, and he earned an all-star berth as the catalyst behind Even if Vucevic doesn’t get the shot up, he can dominate the offensive glass with a guard trying to We know who has found success in Vucevic pick-and-rolls for Orlando , and we know which Raptors have

Raptors are winning the battle of centres with a defence that has stifled Orlando’s Vucevic© Frank Gunn Raptors' big man Serge Ibaka, left, has helped frustrate Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic in the first two games of their opening-round series.

The schemes are solid and the help is nice to have but when it gets right down to it, the reason the Raptors have helped turn Orlando Magic centre Nikola Vucevic into a nonentity two games into their playoff series is kind of simple.


The combination of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka had done a tremendous job on the all-star centre, each able to use his individual talents to frustrate Vucevic into two distinctly below-average performances.

“We've got two really good centres defensively, first of all,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Wednesday. “They're, at times, as good as it gets, so it's nice to have two guys to be able to go at him throughout the course of the game. They played him physical. They limited his touches.”

A few points to wrap up Raptors Game 1 loss

A few points to wrap up Raptors Game 1 loss You’ve got two former NBA defensive players of the year trying to corral a so-so shooting point guard from taking a game-winning three with less than five seconds left in a playoff game and they mishandle it so badly D.J. Augustin hits the winner? Yeah, that was some next-level stuff to finish Game 1, wasn’t it? What’s it all mean? Well, if you subscribe to the hoary cliché that a series doesn’t start until the home team loses, at least now it’s started, right? But the Raptors did not play well for any really long stretches at either end – the third quarter was pretty good but they still threw the ball all over the gym during it – and they’ve got some things to work on.

Orlando will need everything he can give them to upset the No. 2 seed Raptors , and his matchup vs. Marc Gasol figures to be a key to the series. The Magic do have a chance at nabbing the No. 6 seed with a win tonight, so that could give Vucevic some extra incentive to get out there.

Latest on Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic including news, stats, videos, highlights and more on ESPN. Spin: Vucevic missed Wednesday' s game against Charlotte with an illness, but he was able to do some individual work Thursday and said he' s "feeling a lot better."

And they took away everything the seven-footer wanted to do.

Vucevic is a combined 6-for-21 from the field two games into the series, averaging 8.5 points per game. That’s a far cry from his usual production, which runs to about 17 shots per game and about 20 points a night as a focal point of the Orlando offence.

He’s been a far cry from that.

“I’ve just got to figure it out,” Vucevic said after Tuesday’s disappointing six-point game. “Find a way to be more aggressive and more efficient offensively. I didn’t take many shots (in Game 2), so I’ve just got to find a way to get going defensively. I expected this, I expected them to focus on me, and I’ve just got to look at the tape and see what I can do better.”

It may not be up to him, regardless of what he does.

Rival Watch: What U.S. media are saying about Kawhi, Raptors

Rival Watch: What U.S. media are saying about Kawhi, Raptors Playoff Kawhi arrived in full force in the Raptors’ dominant Game 2 win over the Magic. Here’s what media are saying in the U.S. about the victory. The post Marner becoming Maple Leafs’ go-to guy in big moments appeared first on

The Raptors veteran center , acquired midseason from the Memphis Grizzlies, posted a 3-for-5 shooting line in On the other end of the floor, Gasol effectively took Vucevic out of the game, leaving the Magic' s offense groping in the The Raptors have found their desired intensity, if one game late.

Orlando ’ s two highest-usage players during the regular season, Ross and Nikola Vucevic Defensively, the Raptors were successful on the top two lines of the scouting report; the Magic You would think that having Powell, who has seen so much of Ross, guarding Orlando ’ s top reserve

Gasol is big enough and strong enough and smart enough to force Vucevic off his comfort spots in the Magic offence, Ibaka is quick enough to crowd him, and the Raptors have been sending periodic double-teams in the post that have frustrated the 28-year-old veteran. Vucevic has turned the ball over five times in two games despite his lower-than-usual usage.

“Our perimeter ball pressure has limited his touches, as well,” Nurse said. “We've made it hard for them to get (the ball) in there because of the ball pressure on the outside. Then, when he does get it, there's been enough good individual play and good team play to make him seem uncomfortable.”

It’s a defensive game plan well-devised and well-executed.

“It’s understanding the sets of the other team, the counters that they have, and watching a lot of film on their team and their tendencies, their game plan as a team,” Gasol said. “It’s a matter of executing that game plan. If it doesn’t work a couple times, you have to be disciplined enough to continue to do it.”

Raptors win with combination of grit and talent

Raptors win with combination of grit and talent Raptors win with combination of grit and talent

On Tuesday night, the Orlando Magic' s Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier got into a peculiar Twitter exchange with Utah Jazz big fella Rudy Gobert It started with a cryptic post from the Stifle Tower @NikolaVucevic Your teammate i think he had that ugly ponytail.

They have an average point differential of plus-14.1 that is significantly better than that of the Golden State Warriors (plus-11.7 entering Thursday). 27, 2016: Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates with a dance after hitting the game- winning 3 late in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

What the Raptors are doing to Vucevic mirrors what they’re trying to do to Terrence Ross — use all the tools at their disposal and a lot of different looks to take the sharpshooting backup out of his comfort zone.

Ross has gotten away from the Raptors in short spurts but Toronto held him scoreless in the second half of the Game 2 whitewash, with just three shot attempts, thanks to a variety of different looks and just solid, smart defenders.

That group included Fred VanVleet, who would seem to be a bad matchup for the long, quick, athletic Ross. But VanVleet was able to get physical with Ross, disrupt his movement without the ball and force him into split-second decisions that didn’t often go well.

“I keep using the same words, desire and determination,” Nurse said. “Fred’s determination, desire to guard him (Tuesday) night was really high … Terrence is a problem — we end up with Kyle on him, Fred on him, Kawhi on him, Pascal on him, you know, we’re trying to throw a lot of different things at him … it’s hard to get that guy out of rhythm but we’re trying to.”

Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

Raptors don’t have time to gloat with Sixers waiting in the second round.
In the immediate aftermath of a dominating defensive performance — perhaps the best four-game stretch of defence in franchise history — the Raptors were not going to gloat. They were not going to get to full of themselves, not be fat and happy after at dispatching the Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA playoffs. To a man, they were satisfied but not pleased, confident but not overjoyed. They were as professional as they’ve been all year and it speaks volumes to their businesslike approach to the business at hand. “We’re just, honestly, going,” Kyle Lowry said, moments after Toronto had finished off a 4-1 series with over the Magic.

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