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Posté le: Mer 12 Avr - 11:44 (2017) Répondre en citant

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 TORONTO - Its been a while since the Raptors could genuinely speak about a meaningful game in February but Dwane Casey is not just blowing smoke when he stresses the importance of Wednesdays showdown with Atlanta, his teams final game before All-Star weekend. Nemanja Bjelica Timberwolves Jersey . "Its huge," Casey said of Torontos matchup with the fifth-place Hawks, who sit 1.5 games behind the Raptors for third place in the Eastern Conference. "Its not like in the past where games dont matter. In the past we were building, getting guys experience. Now the games matter." Toronto will go into the break with at least 27 wins for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign and could pad its cushion over Atlanta in the standings with a victory on Wednesday. TSN 1050s Josh Lewenberg and Duane Watson took a look at the importance of Wednesdays tilt at home to Atlanta and finishing the first half of the season strong in this weeks edition of the Raptors Report podcast. Generally, this is one of those games - the one just before All-Star - that coaches fear most, and for good reason. Its just one of 82 and its easy to look past if youre headed to New Orleans for this weekends festivities or eagerly awaiting time off with family and friends. NBA players are only human after all. Perhaps that would be the case against an inferior opponent, a trap game of sorts, but this years unofficial finale to the first half of the season has a different feel and the mentality going into it reflects a new level of focus. "(We have to) make sure we take care of business before we go on the break," Casey said following a light practice on Tuesday. "(Weve) been talking about that now for the last week or so and we didnt do a good job on the West Coast trip of closing out. Weve got one more game before the break and we dont want to take the break before it starts." His troops seem to have bought in. "Before anything else weve got to care of business (Wednesday) against a team were going back and forth with at our spot in the Eastern Conference," said DeMar DeRozan, Torontos representative in Sundays All-Star Game. "Weve got to take advantage of (Wednesdays) game on our home floor and go into the break feeling good." Despite dropping three of five games on the road last week, the Raptors have an opportunity to go into the five-day layoff with some momentum, coming off a 108-101 win over the Pelicans at home Monday. Meanwhile, the Hawks are backing into the break having lost four straight, most recently falling 100-85 to the Bulls, who leapfrogged them for fourth place with the win. Atlanta has failed to break 90 points in three of its last three games, scoring 86.5 over that stretch after averaging 116.5 in the previous four contests, winning three. "Theyre definitely a team of runs, that can get real streaky on you fast," said DeRozan, who scored 31 points in Torontos 102-95 road loss to the Hawks on Nov. 1, the second game of the season. "So weve got to take all that out the game from the start and not give them (any) hope and take care of business from the get go." Hawks centre Al Horford had 22 points and 16 rebounds in the first meeting but has since been lost for the season after undergoing surgery on a torn pectoral muscle. Paul Millsap - who will join DeRozan as a first-time all-star in the East this weekend - has stepped up in Horfords place, averaging a career-best 17.7 points to go along with 8.4 rebounds, already knocking down more threes this season (46) than he had in his previous seven combined. "Hes another example of a guy who has developed his game (and) brought something back to the table every year," Casey said of the Hawks forward. "Hes made some threes in his career in Utah but now hes a consistent three-point shooter. Hes self-made and thats what you respect about Millsap." Certainly you cannot talk about the Hawks and their three-point shooting without mentioning one of the most impressive, albeit under the radar streaks in professional sports right now. With two treys in Tuesdays loss, Kyle Korver extended his historic run of consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer to 119. He broke Dana Barros old record of 89 straight games back in December and is shooting the three-ball at a 46 per cent clip on the season, third best in the NBA. His accomplishment - and the threat it represents - has not gone unnoticed in the Raptors locker room. "Its crazy to do something like that," DeRozan said. "Especially when they know youre a three-point shooter and you scout a guy like that and your whole objective is to run him off the three-point line, make him shoot twos. Hes still knocking down threes, its definitely tough." "Hes a good athlete, its not like hes just a stand still guy," Casey added of Korver. "So were going to have to have a lot of energy to chase him around, to run with him, to move with him and we cant relax because if you lose site of him for a split second its a three-point shot." Three days before defending his Slam Dunk title at All-Star Saturday Night, Terrence Ross should draw the assignment of chasing down Korver, at least initially. As for Millsap, he should see more of a committee at the four-spot, especially if Amir Johnson cant go for the Raptors. Johnson has been nursing an injury to his right ankle since coming down on it in last months win over Orlando. Casey and the coaching staff opted to rest the Raptors ailing warrior in Mondays win - the first game hes missed due to injury in nearly two years - but havent determined his status for Wednesdays contest. Previously it would have made perfect sense to sit him again, extending his rest into and through the break but now, with higher stakes, the decision becomes more difficult. "Hes still sore but were going to see," Casey said. "Right now we need all hands on deck." Chase Budinger Jersey . The last team in the NBA that will have any sympathy for the Thunder is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are showing signs of putting everything together after two years of devastating injuries. Tyus Jones Jersey . He had even more fun Friday. Coming off a sensational rookie season, Spieth opened the new year by never coming close to bogey and making a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 7-under 66. http://www.nbatimberwolvesproshop.com/t-shirts/ . - After spending the morning in the hospital, Logan Couture gave the San Jose Sharks the spark they needed.MIAMI - Theres no Jeff, Jimmie or Junior. Bad Brad missed the cut and Smoke never contended.NASCARs biggest stars are all absent from this final field of four racing for the Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.The new elimination format introduced by NASCAR this season was designed to emphasize wins over points and create a survival-of-the-fastest finale. Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski were eliminated last week. Six-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCARs most popular driver, were knocked out in the second round. Three-time series champion Tony Stewart didnt even make the 16-driver field.It was a startling development for NASCAR, particularly since Earnhardt, Gordon, Johnson and Keselowski combined to win 18 of 35 races this season. They will be racing only for pride and a trophy on Sunday while Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman will be chasing the Sprint Cup championship.The quartet lacks star power. But it is a formidable field and all four drivers have their share of tangled histories and compelling journeys that have them within reach of what will be the first NASCAR title for one of them.Harvick spent 13 seasons driving for Richard Childress, who hastily called him up to the big leagues to drive Dale Earnhardts car just five days after the Hall of Famer was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500. He had raw talent to go with his hair-trigger temper.But Richard Childress Racing could never get him close enough — he finished a career-best third in the standings three times — and he began talking to good friend Stewart about his future in 2012. Stewart told Harvick if he left RCR to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing, he could get Harvick a title.Harvick joined SHR at the end of 2013 and this first season has been nothing short of magical. Harvick has four wins — including last weeks version of a walk-off home run to race his way into the finale — and his 2,083 laps led are tops in the series this season.These moments are what you live for when youre racing or a professional athlete, he said of his first true chance to win a championship. You want these moments.To make room for Harvick, Stewart had to jettison Newman, the driver he brought with him in 2009 when he became part-owner of Stewart-Haas.Newman got his pink slip last July and promptly won the Brickyaard 400 the next race out. Kris Dunn Timberwolves Jersey. That victory raised his stock and Childress brought him on board. He drives Jeff Burtons old car, but in many senses it was a bit of a seat swap with Harvick.Newman, who won a Daytona 500 driving for Roger Penske and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving for Stewart, was the final seed in the 16-driver field after a steady if unspectacular run in the playoffs. Last week, he moved Kyle Larson out of his way to snag the last spot in the finale and bumped Gordon.Despite just 41 laps led all year and no wins, he has a chance to end the 20-year championship drought for Childress.Were in this hunt, Newman said. Just to have this opportunity, this is a chance for a dream to come true.Of the foursome, only Hamlin has been in this position before.He was the points leader headed into the finale under a different format in 2010. But his nerves were shaky before he even got in the car and he lost the championship to Johnson. Hamlin hasnt been the same driver since.Last season, Hamlin feuded for more than a month with Logano, his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Things boiled over at California when they raced each other hard and contact sent Hamlin hard into the wall. He broke his back, missed five races and failed to make the Chase for the first time in his career.Logano, meanwhile, was on a career resurgence at Team Penske after failing to meet expectations in four seasons with Gibbs. The former 18-year-old phenom dubbed Sliced Bread was pushed into Stewarts ride before he was ready when Stewart left for SHR.Cast aside so Gibbs could add Matt Kenseth last year, the fit with Penske has been spectacular as Logano made the Chase for the first time last year, then held his own with five wins against the big dogs this season.Now 24 and the youngest of the title contenders, Logano is racing for a championship against his old team and two drivers he has clashed with in Hamlin and Harvick, who relentlessly picked on him when he first came into the series.Logano has never before been in such a high-stakes situation, but hes done it by listening to the advice of crew chief Todd Gordon.Todd said to me, Dont reinvent the wheel at this point. You just polish the wheel a little bit and just become a little better in every area, Logano said. Thats what weve been able to do. Its been a fun ride so far. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' ' 



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Posté le: Mer 12 Avr - 11:44 (2017)
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