Title: How well did the Raptors stick to their new offensive identity in round one?
Date: April 29, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at whether the Raptors stayed true to their offensive culture reset in the first round of the playoffs.
In retrospect, Game 4 looks more like an outlier than a harbinger. The familiarity with which the end-game scenario played out for the Toronto Raptors in that one was alarming, and they quickly righted the ship in closing out a pivotal Game 5 in much more characteristic fashion. This was the test that was always awaiting the Raptors in the postseason, the true proving ground for a so-called culture reset that led to sweeping changes in offensive approach that, outside of that one shaky second half, appear to have galvanized for the playoffs.
There is plenty of test to come. As I write this, drinking a fancy coffee because I’m a fancy Sunday boy, the Raptors are still awaiting the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers to tip off in a Game 7 that will determine their second-round opponent. We’ll touch briefly on both of those teams at the end of this piece and on one of them a lot more in the coming days, but rest assured both stand as continued proving ground for a Raptors team claiming – and so far, showing – that they are different this time around.
To see how they’re different, I want to go back to something we did a couple times during the season, looking at how the Raptors’ offence has changed compared to last year. We’ll zoom through it a little faster here, because a six-game sample against a solitary opponent offers a fair amount of noise and because we’re really only worried about the big-picture answers than the granular (for this post; in general, the finer the better). Earlier installments looked at the first few weeks of the season, the team at the half-way mark, an All-Star break look at some trends, and a late-season examination of their pace slowing down. The trend: There were specific ebbs and flows and, in general, the Raptors were a consistently different team over 82 games. And were again over 5.5 or so.