Title: What went wrong with the Raptors’ late-game offence in Game 4? And how can they fix it?
Date: April 24, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I broke down the Raptors’ late-game offensive collapse, possession-by-possession.
The Raptors fell into a lot of bad habits in Sunday’s Game 4 loss, a loss that evened their series with the Washington Wizards at two games apiece. Eric Koreen covered the greater narrative aspect of the performance here and the two of us worked through some of the more philosophical implications here, and still it feels like the late-game execution warrants closer examination.
There were a few notable offensive issues prior to that point.
- Hesitation: The Raptors took just 18 three-point attempts, which would have been their lowest mark all season. A handful of times, open shooters paused and allowed the defence to recover and close out, often leading to worse shot opportunities later in the shot clock. The Raptors have shot better on threes earlier in the shot clock than late for the most part, as almost all teams do over a large enough sample. The idea of giving up a good shot for a great one is admirable, to a certain logical tipping point. Delon Wright, a 37-per-cent three-point shooter this year, open above the arc may be that line.
- Unforced turnovers: The Raptors have gone from the fourth-lowest turnover team in the regular season to the most turnover prone team in the playoffs. Dwane Casey estimated that 10 of the team’s 18 turnovers were of the bad-pass variety. In other words, they were Toronto mistakes rather than the result of Wizards aggression. Serge Ibaka and C.J. Miles combined for seven in just 61 total touches, only 32 of them in the frontcourt.
- Poorly distributed touches: DeMar DeRozan used nearly half of the team’s possessions while on the floor and closer to 60 per cent in his fourth-quarter minutes, and he was somehow the only Raptor other than Jonas Valanciunas (who only played 15 minutes) to have even an average usage rate.