What’s the biggest problem that you can attribute to the Raptors recent swooning?
Demar: Obviously and ultimately, the defense. The Raptors are giving up 109 points per 100 possessions, ranking them at 19th in the league, but if you want to delve deeper into why the team is so ragged, look no further than their defensive rebounding. The Raptors are 27th in defensive rebounding this year and are allowing 13.1 second-chance points per game, which is good for 17th in the league. There just aren’t any prolific rebounders on the squad other than Jonas Valanciunas, and his efforts on the glass continues to wax and wane.
With the injuries that struck this past January, the Raptors found themselves resorting to a lot of three-guard lineups, which is great offensively. Defensively, the team then lacks the necessary length and heft to keep their man in front of them, while also giving up a height advantage on the boards to more traditional lineups.
The possession ends when you secure the rebound. If the Raptors continue to struggle on the boards, they’ll continue to give up the gaudy point totals akin to results in January.
Chris: There have been a number of issues, like I mentioned earlier, but I think without question the biggest problem has been the defence. Dwane Casey is known as a defensive-minded coach and while I don’t think any of us expect the Raptors to lead the league in defensive efficiency, we certainly expect them to communicate and actually be able to come up with a stop or two, which hasn’t been the case.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how they’re going to resolve some of their defensive issues. The communication will improve over time, but I don’t know how they improve their high pick-and-roll defence, which has been their Achilles heel this season. It’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s an area I’m very concerned about going forward.