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Marc Gasol Jersey

After dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, the Toronto Raptors returned home knowing the odds — at least historically — are against them in their matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.

But when told that 94 percent of the teams with 2-0 leads have gone on to win a best-of-seven series, Raptors coach Nick Nurse was defiant in his belief that Toronto still has what it takes to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

“That can’t be right,” Nurse said, drawing laughs. “That can’t be right. Check the figures.

“I don’t know. How do I find the solace [in that]? I find the solace when OKC got beat by 34 and 24 and went down 2-0 and then won four straight against a great, great, great, great San Antonio team. I don’t know.

“I don’t really give a crap about that. I just want our team to come play their ass off [Sunday night] and get one game and it changes the series.”

The numbers are as bad as they were presented to Nurse: Teams are 51-5 (91.1 percent) when taking a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, and 287-20 (93.5 percent) overall when taking such a lead in a playoff series.

In order to overcome those odds and do what the Thunder did in 2012 — when OKC won Games 3-6 and advanced to the NBA Finals — the Raptors will have to be better than they were in Game 2, when the Bucks led wire-to-wire and stormed to a comprehensive victory.

After Marc Gasol struggled in Game 2, scoring two points on 1-for-9 shooting in 19 minutes, Nurse was asked about the possibility of making a lineup change. He said that, in fact, he could make multiple — perhaps a sign that, in addition to replacing Gasol with Serge Ibaka, he’s considering benching Danny Green, who struggled for a third straight game, in favor of Norman Powell, who scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting in Game 2.

Nurse admitted, however, that deciding to make such a move is hard for a variety of reasons beyond fit against a specific opponent.

“I think your question here is this: ‘Are you gonna dance with the one you brung to the ball?'” Nurse asked. “It’s not easy. You think certain series aren’t for certain guys, et cetera, but I also think that we’ve gotten, we’ve had bad biorhythms a couple times, maybe three or four times in the playoffs, and then the next game our biorhythms were back intact.

“So I kinda trust these guys, know who they are, believe in ’em, and know they’re better than they played last night and have shown that on bounce-back situations usually.”

The margin for error, though, is now all but gone. Toronto had its chance to steal homecourt in Game 1, when it led for most of the first three quarters before being outscored 32-17 in the fourth to let a game both sides would admit the Raptors should’ve won slip away.

Part of the calculation for Nurse will come with deciding whether Gasol or Ibaka will give him the best chance to chase Brook Lopez, Milwaukee’s mountain of a starting center, out of the lane. Nurse made a point of noting that, in his mind, Lopez is committing three-second violations repeatedly throughout the game.

“Yeah, I mean, they’re loading a lot, and Lopez never leaves the lane,” Nurse said. “I think I counted 15 illegal defenses on the film, but I ain’t gonna count that.

“Your big has to be able to make ’em pay from the perimeter. You need a spacing big that can hit, or get to the next action because he’s in the paint.”

Jonas Valanciunas Jersey

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss at least four weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb, the team announced Thursday.

The surgery was performed at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, by Dr. Jeffrey Yao, a specialist in hand, wrist and elbow surgery.

Valanciunas will be in a cast for four weeks, and then his status will be re-evaluated.

Also Thursday, the Raptors listed Kawhi Leonard as questionable for Friday night’s game at Portland. Leonard has missed the past two games with a bruised right hip.

Valanciunas’ injury occurred in the second quarter of Wednesday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors. Valanciunas was posting up Draymond Green when, as he turned to make a move, Green swiped down at the ball and hit him on the hand.

The backup center immediately fell to the ground in agony, then got up holding his hand while in visible pain. A trainer spent time working on Valanciunas along the bench before eventually escorting him to the locker room.

Valanciunas is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Raptors, who have the best record in the NBA at 23-7.

Cheap Toronto Raptors Jersey Discount

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, born and raised in Nigeria before moving to the United States and becoming one of the most unique front-office success stories in professional sports history, responded strongly to President Donald Trump’s reported disparaging remarks about immigration.

Multiple outlets have cited sources in reporting that Trump referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers this week. In a tweet on Friday morning, Trump denied using the specific term. Later in the day, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who was present at the meeting, said the president used the word.
"I don't think it's fair, and I don't think it's what inspiring leadership can be. What sense of hope are we giving people if you are calling where they live -- and where they're from -- a shithole?" Masai Ujiri told ESPN.
“This summer, I went to Kigali and Nairobi and Lagos, and I went to Kampala and Abidjan and Dakar and Johannesburg, and I saw great cities and great people,” Ujiri told ESPN on Friday. “And I went to visit the refugee camp in Dadaab, and I met good people and good families with plenty of hope. If those places are being referred to as shitholes, go visit those places, and go meet those people.”

“I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s what inspiring leadership can be. What sense of hope are we giving people if you are calling where they live — and where they’re from — a shithole?

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the United States and Canada and I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given by people, and the game of basketball, and the NBA. As leaders, I think we have to give people in many places a chance to have success, not continue to put those people down.

“We have to inspire people and give them a sense of hope. We need to bring people along, not ridicule and tear them down. This cannot be the message that we accept from the leader of the free world.

“… Just because someone lives in a hut, that doesn’t mean that isn’t a good person, that that person can’t do better, that person isn’t capable of being great. And just because it’s a hut — whatever that means — doesn’t mean it’s not a home. God doesn’t put anyone someplace permanently. I am a living testimony to that. If I grew up in a shithole, I am proud of my shithole.”

Ujiri, 47, was hired by the Denver Nuggets as the first African-born general manager in NBA history in 2010, and voted the league’s Executive of the Year for the 2012-13 season. After leaving Denver to oversee the Toronto franchise in 2013, he has elevated the Raptors into a consistent Eastern Conference contender.

Ujiri has engineered humanitarian efforts through his Giants of Africa basketball program and the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders. Giants of Africa has raised and donated millions of dollars toward facilities, coaching and education of young basketball players throughout the African continent.