Title: Raptors playing two centres not a disaster despite Spurs blowout loss
Date: January 4, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at the early returns from the Raptors’ experiment playing two centers together at a time
Well, it was never expected to be seamless or perfect.
Facing an injury to super-sub power forward Patrick Patterson, the Toronto Raptors have been forced into some untraditional lineups over their last two-and-a-half games. When head coach Dwane Casey used Lucas Nogueira at power forward alongside Jonas Valanciunas on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns, it was an intriguing idea that seemed like a potential small-minutes look.
Because the Los Angeles Lakers’ frontcourt was dominating the glass Sunday, Casey went back to it. Then he got even more aggressive, using rookie Jakob Poeltl alongside Nogueira to great success. Faced with an enormous Spurs frontcourt Tuesday, Casey put two centres on the floor together early and often, looking to match San Antonio’s size. It was less effective. While it helped negate an on-paper rebounding advantage, the Spurs summarily dispatched of a sloppy, tired-looking Raptors squad.
Neither game is a clean sample to extrapolate from (few individual games are). Still, there were positives and negatives, and the answer to Casey’s likely question as to whether this can work was the obvious “keep trying to find out.”