Title: Serge Ibaka at centre a boon for the Raptors’ defence against the Bucks
Date: April 23, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Serge Ibaka’s move to center and what it opened up for the Raptors defensively in Game 4.
As the Milwaukee Bucks came down the floor, Serge Ibaka took his place just below the free-throw line, barking instructions to his Toronto Raptors teammates and pointing out coverage to his left.
P.J. Tucker worked to deny Giannis Antetokoumnpo post position, forcing the Bucks superstar to receive a pass far above the elbow. Ibaka trailed Thon Maker, identifying the pick-and-roll to come early on and pre-switching, dropping back to dare Antetokounmpo to pull up rather than drive. Antetokounmpo declined, eventually barreling hard into Ibaka’s chest and taking an impossible running jumper over an outstretched Ibaka.
It was one of the rare occasions on which Antetokounmpo was able to score against such defence in Game 4, a testament to his singular length and the mastery with which he leverages it. Ibaka would have been hard-pressed to defend the play any better. The Raptors know better than any team in the league that sometimes great players just make impossible shots.