In a surprising development, the Raps rebounded from two ugly losses to open the Eastern Conference Finals to take the next two at home and even the series, last night in pulsating fashion.
After getting beaten up in Cleveland, a change of approach was needed, and Dwayne Casey decided that it was more important to protect the paint than take away the three point line, which they had stressed early in the series. Bismack Biyombo responded with a two game tour de force defensively, turning away Cavs rim attacks relentlessly. The Cavs cooled off from their insanely hot three point shooting early in the playoffs, and the result was two big home wins for the Raps, fueled by the offense of their back court, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Last night the Raps built their lead as high as 18 points, but the Cavs made an inevitable run to take the lead in the 4th quarter. Several big plays down the stretch, however, from Lowry and DeRozan, got the Raps back in front, and a couple of huge offensive rebounds helped them seal the game.
Now they head back to Cleveland for a pivotal game five. The Cavs are still the clear favorites in the series, but kudos to the Raps for making them work for it, and hey, you never know.
(I imagine the league office is pondering whether to step in here...the gods know having the Raptors and not the Cavs in the Finals is not ideal for them).
The news out of the West is that Draymond Green somehow avoided suspension for his blatant and reckless kick at Steven Adams' balls. The NBA merely changed it to a flagrant 2 and imposed a fine. As a neutral, I want to see the best players on the court. But as someone who likes fairness and justice, this is ridiculous. There is no question he should be suspended, and the only reason he wasn't is because he's a star player. It's pretty outrageous. The kick was terrible--an attack on Adams' privates for the 2nd game in a row. Green has been on the edge of tilt for most of this series, but apparently can get away with just about anything.
The Western Conference Finals continue tonight in Oklahoma City with game three at 8:00pm CDT on TNT.
Not much Wolves news to report, both because very little is happening and because Thibs and Layden have the habit of not saying anything, but a couple of tidbits:
A report yesterday said that Wolves assistant coach Bryan Gates is a target for Dave Joerger for his staff in Sacramento. Whether this would be a promotion is unclear, as is Gates' contract status. He was not one of the staffers let go in the Friday axings.
The Wolves did hold a workout on Monday, which predominantly included guys unlikely to be drafted. The most recognizable name was Fred Van Vleet, a guard from Wichita State. These players were in to audition for possible spots on the Wolves Summer League roster.
Speaking of Summer League, it will run from July 8th-18th in Las Vegas this year. Dave Naylor will once again be on hand to cover it for us. I expect Tyus Jones is the only currently rostered player likely to participate for the Wolves, along with their draft pick if they keep it, though of course nothing about the roster has been announced.
Today in History
1153: Malcolm IV becomes King of Scots
1218: 5th Crusade leaves Acre for Egypt
1689: English parliament guarantees freedom of religion for Protestants
1738: John Wesley converted, marking the beginning of Methodism
1775: John Hancock elected president of continental congress
1818: Andrew Jackson captures Pensacola, FL
1830: "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (Sarah Hale) published
1844: Samuel Morse sends first telegraph message
1846: Zachary Taylor captures Monterrey in Mexican War
1854: Lincoln University, first black institution of higher education in U.S. is founded
1883: Brooklyn Bridge opens
1921: First Northern Ireland parliament elected
1926: Paavo Nurmi sets record in 3000 Meters
1941: British HMS Hood sunk by German battleship Bismarck
1951: Court rules segregation of Washington DC restaurants is illegal
1968: Students set fire to the Bourse in Paris
1976: California wins outscore French wines in a Paris contest
1993: Eritrea gains independence from Ethiopa
Three huge musical birthdays today: Bob Dylan (1941), Roseanne Cash (1955), but we'll go with Patti LaBelle, born in 1944. Just cause.
Have a great Tuesday