Could the Raptors have done more to improve the draft lottery odds?

The Canadian Press

10 things to know, with the NBA regular season in the books

The compressed and coronavirus-threatened NBA regular season is over. All 1,080 scheduled games have been played, and now the play-in round awaits you. It starts Tuesday, ends Friday and the playoffs begin Saturday. Here are 10 notes on the season that was: TRIPLE DOUBLES The players who had the league’s second, third and fourth triple doubles this season – Nikola Jokic, James Harden and Luka Doncic, respectively – combined for 39 of the jamming efforts of statistics sheets. They combined for one more than Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, the league’s all-time triple-double king, had 38 this season. It is the second highest number of people in any season; Westbrook had 42 in 2016-17. He also has the third-highest (34 in 2018-19) and fourth-highest (25 in 2017-18) triple-double season total in NBA history. Consider this: No one other than Westbrook has ever had more than 22 triple doubles in a season. He has had 22 since March 30. League-wide, Westbrook helped the NBA set a record this season with 142 triple doubles. The previous league-wide mark was 127 two seasons ago. In the past five seasons, there have been 594 triple-doubles – virtually as many as there were in the previous 16 seasons combined. OVER 3 PER GAME Teams have averaged 12.7 3 points per game this season, a new NBA record for the ninth consecutive year in the department. Utah finished with a league record 16.7 in 3 per game. The Jazz completed a total of 1,205 seasons of 3, the third-highest number of seasons in NBA history. It was a 72-game regular season; if this had been the usual 82-game season, at this rate, the Jazz would have made 1,372 3 this season. The single-season record for a team was set by Houston in 2018-19, when the Rockets made it 1,323. FREE THROW RECORD For the second season in a row, the NBA posted a record free throw percentage. NBA players have made 77.8% of their free throws this season, better than the mark of 77.3% set last season. It’s been a trend for a bit now; of the eight best FT shooting seasons in NBA history, four have taken place in the past four years. Chris Paul of Phoenix was the league leader (among qualifiers) in free throw percentage, achieving 93.4% of his tries. This helped the Suns win the second best free shooting season in NBA history, at 83.4%. The line’s all-time best season has also come this season: the Los Angeles Clippers are the new record holder, having shot 83.9%. HOME DISADVANTAGE The worst season for home teams in NBA history ended with a record 587-493 – 54.4%. The previous league’s lowest level for home winning percentage was 55.1%, set last season. Utah (31-5) and Philadelphia (29-7) had the best scores at home; Oklahoma City (10-26) and Houston (9-27) had the worst. A GOOD SIGN, SORT OF Utah finished with the league’s best record and, probably unsurprisingly, also led the NBA in the points differential – overtaking opponents by more than nine points per game, on average. The Jazz will have to thwart a small trend if they want to continue and win the NBA title. Only three teams in the past 12 seasons – San Antonio in 2013-14, then Golden State in 2014-15 and 2016-17 – have led the league in points differential and ended up winning a championship. THE YEAR OF KYRIE The Sharpshoot Club now has a new member: Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn. It is known as the 50-40-90 club: at least 50% shooting from the field, at least 40% from 3 point distance, at least 90% from the foul line. Irving has done it this season, 50.5% from the field, 40.2% from 3, 92.2% from the line. He is the ninth player in NBA history to join the club – and three of the nine are now associated with the Nets. Brooklyn coach Steve Nash did it four times as a player, and Nets forward Kevin Durant did it once when he was with Oklahoma City. The others of the club: Larry Bird, Mark Price, Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie Miller, Malcolm Brogdon and Stephen Curry. BY CART The Miami Heat finished eight games in 0.500 – 40-32. They did so by edging their opponents this season by a total of two points. Heat 7,781, opponents 7,779 was the season finale. It marked the sixth time in NBA history that a team has competed in an entire season and was within two points, one way or another, of their opponents’ combined score. The others – the Seattle SuperSonics 2000-01 beat their opponents by two points; the 1955-56 Syracuse Nationals, the 1980-81 Kansas City Kings and the 1980-81 Washington Bullets (yes, the same year) dominated opponents by one point throughout the season; and the 1976-77 New York Knicks were outscored by one point. It wasn’t just a Miami thing, either. The Indiana Pacers have been outscored by three points this season – one of nine teams to have gone through an entire season and have such a close margin. THE 72 CLUB There were 11 players who played 72 games this season: Nikola Jokic of Denver, Justin Holiday of Indiana, Ivica Zubac of the Los Angeles Clippers, Anthony Edwards of Minnesota, Duncan Robinson of Miami, RJ Barrett of New York , Dwayne Bacon from Orlando, Mikal from Phoenix Bridges, Enes Kanter from Portland and the Utah duo of Bojan Bogdanovic and Georges Niang. Bridges, Robinson, Jokic, Barrett and Bogdanovic have started all 72 games for their respective teams. Zubac’s’ streak ‘was aided at the end of the season by the Clippers’ decision to play him for 3 minutes and 18 seconds in the penultimate game of the season – and for just 6 seconds in the final of Sunday. But it matters. 599 DAYS … AT LEAST The NBA hasn’t said when next season will start. Based on calendars from previous years, a logical opening date would be October 19 – although that’s still an estimate. The Toronto Raptors last played in Canada on February 28, 2020. They played five road games before the pandemic ended on March 11, 2020 – and have been moved since. If next season’s opening night is Oct. 19, it would be the 599th day since the Raptors played a “home” game. And while they can’t wait to return to Toronto, they are leaving a legacy in Tampa in the form of a donation of $ 350,000 to fund three courts and a multi-purpose hall at an academic and leadership center under construction there. The idea was driven by the players, the Raptors said. LEADERS Stephen Curry of Golden State won the goal scoring title (32.0 per game), Russell Westbrook of Washington won the assists title (11.7), Atlanta’s Clint Capela won the rebound title (14 , 3), Jimmy Butler of Miami won the stealing title (2.1) and Rudy of Utah Gobert won the blocked shot title (2.7). Players must appear in a certain percentage of games to be eligible for crowns in these categories. ___ More AP NBA: and Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

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