Title: How DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors handled Washington’s pick-and-roll defence in Game 1
Date: April 17, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I examined how the Raptors handled the Wizards’ traps in Game 1 and the growth it showed in the team’s offensive playmaking.
Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards was very much a feeling out game. While both Dwane Casey and Scott Brooks worked their way through a few different tweaks, both teams primarily stuck to their base defences. For the Raptors, that meant a lot of staying at home on shooters and guarding the pick-and-roll mostly as a 2-on-2 action. For the Wizards, that meant the usual trapping and corralling of ball-handlers. It made for a pretty straightforward game from an analysis perspective, one that came down to execution against those schemes and the usual ancillary factors.
That the Raptors came away the victors speaks to both Casey’s late gamble on Lucas Nogueira and the Raptors’ ability to execute against Washington’s approach, something they’ve been working toward for upwards of a year now. This time last year, the Raptors took a few games to figure out Milwaukee’s aggressive defensive attack, only occasionally making the right reads, tough passes and pick-and-roll shorts that an offence needs to in order to punish the extra attention. The Raptors did those things with much greater comfort and regularity on Saturday, which warrants a closer examination.
Before getting into that: Yes, it helps tremendously that the Raptors hit 16 of their 30 threes, setting a franchise record for threes in a playoff game. It is a make-or-miss league, as you’ve surely heard, and the Raptors have done well to empower their role players to take the shots that present themselves when Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan look for them. This was a good offensive game even from a process perspective – compared to last year’s Game 1 disaster, the Raptors took seven fewer non-paint twos and shot more high-paint shots and threes in their place.