Redskins

Slumping Raptors down to 8 healthy players vs Nets

Slumping Raptors down to 8 healthy players vs Nets

TORONTO (AP) Five players injured and one suspended. A horrendous road trip with five straight losses. Fourteenth place in the Eastern Conference.

That describes the Toronto Raptors, who are 4-18 before facing the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

``We've got bad luck everywhere,'' leading scorer DeMar DeRozan said.

For Raptors coach Dwane Casey, the advice to his players is simple.

``This is when you have to pull your pants up - I think I heard the term `big boy pants' - and be ready to play,'' Casey said during the shootaround. ``That's where I am. I'm a fighter. I'm a scrapper. I'm still with this team. We're working hard ... I'm not shying away from this challenge and this opportunity.''

An injury-depleted roster hasn't helped matters. Casey's injured list includes Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry, Linas Kleiza, Alan Anderson and Landry Fields. Amir Johnson was suspended for the Brooklyn game after throwing his mouthpiece at an official during Monday's loss in Portland.

Bargnani and Lowry are second and third on the team in scoring, averaging a combined 31.8 points.

Casey, who believes his team is probably three to five wins better than the standings show, says coaches and players have to endure the attention and speculation that accompany such a slide.

``We live in a glass bowl. I live in a glass bowl. That's part of the territory when we sign up,'' he said. ``So we're all men.

``And I've explained that to players. You've got to perform - trade rumors, firing, whatever it is - we all have to perform. We have a job to do. And we can't go in a shell and say `Please go away, please go away.'''

General manager Bryan Colangelo spoke out during the recent road trip, calling the team's play unacceptable, disappointing and embarrassing. Rather than the talent level, he pointed to ``lack of focus, attention to detail, consistency of competing.''

Players and coaches met after a loss in Utah for some soul-searching. The Raptors promptly lost games in Portland and Los Angeles, against the Clippers.

``I think Bryan was trying to light a fire under the players, saying there's lack of focus, that we had talent,'' Casey said. ``We do have talent. We have young talent that can compete in this league - or growing talent. I think there's a lot of room for improvement with the talent we have and I think that's what he's trying to say is `Look, we're good enough. We're good enough to compete with these guys.'''

Defense has been among the major issues.

Entering the Brooklyn game, the Raptors ranked 30th - last - in the league in point differential at minus 7.45. Toronto was 27th in points conceded at 103 and 27th in rebounding by opponents.

``I thought we made progress last year defensively and we've taken a step back,'' Casey said. ``We've taken a step back to go forward. But are we giving up on that progress? I'm not.''

After playing 15 of its 22 games away from home, Toronto hosts 11 of its next 15 at the Air Canada Centre. But Casey was quick to note that home court isn't a cure-all.

``There's an old saying: `Home will take care of you, but you've got to take care of home,''' he said. ``You don't want to be comfortable at home either because that's when you get in trouble. We're going to have challenges wherever we play as a team.''

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it

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Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE