Title: Raptors Tactical: 76ers’ lineups highlight duality of Raptors’ defence
Date: October 31, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about the Raptors’ approach to two very different 76ers lineups and how it highlighted the early ups and downs of their defense.
There have been stretches early during their 7-1 start where the Toronto Raptors have looked like a legitimate menace on the defensive end. Armed with ridiculous length, voracious defenders, hyper-modern versatility and coaching willing to unleash it, the Raptors at their best have looked like switching, telepathic terrors. Their defence when fully engaged — usually early in games or for key stretches late — looks the part of a top-five, maybe even top-three, group.
There have likewise been stretches where the Raptors look very much like a team still figuring it out. It makes sense, because they are. By his own estimation, Nick Nurse rolled the defence out methodically, having the team start with more standard coverages and only later employing the heavier switching they’ll probably lean on against some of the league’s tougher opponents. With two new key rotation pieces, two games of rest for Kawhi Leonard and a handful of missed games each for three other key rotation players, the occasional lapses and miscommunications are understandable.
This week’s back-to-back against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers highlighted the work still in progress. Nurse, who seems willing to embrace short-term pain for long-term organizational growth, took Monday’s shorthanded shellacking at the hands of a likewise starless Bucks team as an opportunity more than a disappointment.