Title: How the Raptors have performed in the ‘clutch’ so far this season
Date: January 4, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at the Raptors’ usage in a small sample of clutch situations and the fourth quarter at large.
After the Raptors played the Chicago Bulls close to even for the bulk of Wednesday’s game, Delon Wright and DeMar DeRozan helped lead their team to a small comeback at the end of the third quarter. DeRozan had been dominant all quarter and scored at will most of the game. Wright, meanwhile, had a career night on multiple fronts. When DeRozan hit the bench at the top of the fourth, Wright led an all-bench group on their second big run of the game.
The Raptors never really looked back. A nine-point deficit flipped to a 13-point lead with 14-2 and 16-2 runs over a 10-minute span, and while three of the starters would eventually come back in to help put things away, the game really didn’t get to a point that felt like a true clutch situation.
The Raptors have not had a ton of games go into those tight clutch situations this season. Toronto ranks fourth in the NBA with 14 double-digit wins and fourth with 10 wins by 15 points or more. While they’ve also been beaten by double-digits fewer than any other team (three times), the consistency with which they’ve put games away has limited the opportunities for the Raptors to plan how they will operate in tight games and the amount of data with which to evaluate those plans. This is the cost of beating up on a weak schedule for a month. I’m sure I’m the only one lamenting this.