Toronto Raptors: Loss to Kings exposes struggling defensive game

Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) and Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) go after the ball. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) and Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) go after the ball. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

At some point, the Toronto Raptors will realize that trying to overcome double-digit deficits isn’t a recipe for success.

On Friday against the Sacramento Kings, the Raptors were trailing 104-91 going into the fourth quarter after seeing themselves in an 18-point hole in the game. This is the same team that Toronto turned a 19-point deficit into a 144-123 win and clearly, Sacramento learned from their mistakes.

More from Tip of the Tower

It’s always nice to see a team try to mount a big comeback but at some points, Nick Nurse will be looking for his players to try and lock things down defensively. That has been a struggle this season and it’s hard to not blame the team right now.

Without OG Anunoby, Toronto loses arguably their top defender and Norman Powell couldn’t play either which takes away from their depth. On top of that, Pascal Siakam has been battling swelling in his knee.

It’s encouraging to see a 32-point effort by Siakam considering he hasn’t looked sharp offensively over the last stretch. However, if a player is scoring 30-plus points and his team is trailing by more than 15 points, there is clearly a problem.

This was certainly a big part of Nurse’s comments about the Raptors defensive effort and how they get over it.

"“The number of really obvious breakdown plays at both ends that we’re just not used to seeing, it gets tough to overcome when those get up towards 10 or a dozen or something like that a night,” Nurse said earlier this week. “Well, how do we overcome it? Well, we’ve gotta play really well. We’ve gotta play really well. I think, again, for the most part, there’s lots of games where we do play long stretches with those blatant, obvious breakdowns at both ends.”"

Toronto Raptors defensive struggles were slowly building

When you look back on last season, a big part of the Raptors’ success came from their defensive game despite the loss of Kawhi Leonard. Of course, they struggled defensively against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs and that also came because of their lack of consistency on offence.

Not having Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol returning certainly hurt the Raptors on multiple fronts and their production hasn’t been replaced adequately, unfortunately.

As long as this continues to be an issue for the Raptors, they will struggle to get into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. They have been improving after starting the season 2-8 but as the schedule gets tougher so does the pressure it puts on the defence.

Related Story. Lowry continues to forge legacy. light

How concerned are you about the Raptors defensive game? Is there a solution for it? Let us know in the comments below.