The Toronto Raptors finally acquired Serge Ibaka in a trade, Delon Wright runs the world and the All-star break is upon us.
One day the Toronto Raptors are on the brink of implosion, the next Delon Wright is saving the day in a fourth quarter comeback. Terrence Ross is gone, but the Serge Protector is here for the rescue, all this and the All-Star break is just starting. To help pick up the pieces, Demar Grant and Chris Okrainetz bring you the Two-Man Game.
Who should be the Raptors “closing five” to finish games?
Demar: I know it’s a cop-out but the Raptors should have two closing fives on deck. First the big lineup with Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll, Patterson and Ibaka. Obviously no JV, teams like to play small with tons of shooting at the end of games and Jonas Valanciunas just isn’t cut out for that type of work. This is for those teams that like to close with a shooting five but have a big small forward that Norman Powell cannot compensate for.
If a team is going small without a three that can post up, then swap Carroll for Powell. Powell’s ability to switch onto players one through three could help paper over DeRozan’s defensive woes. With 2Pat and Ibaka as the bigs, you can switch freely and still protect the rim from nearby assailants
Chris: With Serge Ibaka in the mix, I think the closing five should be Ibaka, Patrick Patterson, Norman Powell, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. However, realistically, I do think Dwane Casey will use DeMarre Carroll instead of Powell because of his length.
The debate between Carroll and Powell is a case-by-case scenario since it’s truly contingent on who the opposition deploys. Ultimately, though, I think this would be the Raptors best five to close out a game because this unit is athletic, can shoot, and, most importantly, can switch everything on defense.