Title: Raptors comeback against Grizzlies full of positive progressions on both ends of the court
Date: November 28, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ second-half comeback against Memphis and why such a game is more meaningful to playing uneven while ahead.
There is at least a bit of irony in one of the early defining wins of the Raptors season coming in a game where they trailed by 17 and played something like one good half of basketball. For the bulk of the season, they have been plagued by inconsistency, they’ve just usually been on the other side. They’ve spent 10 per cent of their time this year leading by 20 or more, and have let those leads dwindle far too frequently. Flip the results of the two halves on Tuesday, and this article might be about the team’s continued struggles to hang on to leads and play from ahead.
Switching the script up didn’t reveal any new problems early, necessarily. Floaters continue to be a big problem for the defence when opponents are hitting from the mid-range at a ludicrous clip, the Raptors are not particularly strong on their own glass and the bench unit is very much a work-in-progress. Toronto was uncharacteristically sluggish and visibly frustrated throughout the first half, and a 12-point halftime deficit could have seen them bend and prematurely turn their focus to a marquee matchup Thursday.
Instead, the Raptors turned the game around in a number of ways, changing the only played well half the game narrative around some. Playing from behind reveals certain characteristics, tweaks and strategies that playing ahead does not require, and it’s a far better test of the intangibles we like to assign to True Contenders. Playing ahead is largely a test of focus and attention to detail. Playing from behind, especially against a good, if sputtering team like the Memphis Grizzlies, is a better litmus and a more fertile ground for experimentation and extrapolation.