The Raptors are hoping their championship experience will assist the team when the NBA resumes play in Orlando later this summer, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes.
Toronto, led by star forward Pascal Siakam, kept much of its 2018/19 championship core intact this season, including Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. The Raptors’ strong chemistry and veteran presence are two major reasons why they’ve succeeded this season.
“I feel like there’s chemistry there, we’ve been playing for awhile, we’ve been winning championships together, things you don’t really forget,” Siakam said, as relayed by Smith.
The Raptors held the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 46-18 when the NBA suspended its season, trailing the No. 1 seed Bucks by 6.5 games. The team has solidified itself as a legitimate playoff threat despite losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in free agency last summer.
“To be simple and truthful, I just don’t care what people think of the Raptors,” Siakam said. “I think, for us, it’s been a lot of years caring about, ‘Oh, love me too,’ and I think that’s over, man. We are the champions and if you don’t see it, that’s your problem.
“And for us, it’s about us, we’re not worried what other people think, we’re gonna continue to win games and chase championships. That’s the only thing we care about and whoever feels the way they feel, that’s them and has nothing to do with us. We don’t care about perception.”
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
- For the Knicks, hiring Tom Thibodeau as head coach would likely mean the team wouldn’t acquire Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns anytime soon, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. New York reportedly expressed interest in Towns prior to the trade deadline this season, with Berman noting that the relationship between Towns and Thibodeau was strained in their final weeks together during the 2018/19 season.
- Former NBA guard and current NBA on TNT analyst Kenny Smith laughed off a question about coaching for the Knicks in an interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post. “They know where I am,” Smith laughed, addressing a question about whether he would like to interview for New York’s head coaching job. “They know what I could bring to the table in any capacity. There is a head coach there now (interim coach Mike Miller). … I don’t like to talk about guys’ jobs who still have a job.” Smith also offered his thoughts on racial injustice, the NBA’s restart and more in the interview.
- Jared Weiss and John Hollinger of The Athletic examine the future of the Celtics, pondering whether there’s a viable path to the Finals for the franchise this season. Boston contains a strong nucleus of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and others, holding a 43-21 record on the season.