Title:Pace is the key for Raptors after tenuous victory over Wizards
Date: January 15, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors being at their best offensively when they’re pushing the pace.
The Raptors set the tone early. After Sunday’s game opened with four consecutive misses between the teams, Toronto decided to play to a strength and start running. Kyle Lowry pushed a rebound ahead to Kawhi Leonard for a transition three, Pascal Siakam grabbed a rebound and sprinted the floor for a miss that Lowry tipped in, and then Leonard came up with a steal and sent Siakam screaming to the rim for a transition basket.
Like that, a slow start was flipped to a 7-0 lead, forcing the Wizards to take a timeout. Wanting to keep the pressure on the Wizards, Nick Nurse employed a zone press out of the timeout. Seven minutes in, the Raptors had a 9-0 edge in fast-break points and appeared to be on their way to a blowout victory.
Early on, it was the Raptors at their best: Playing aggressive defence, eliminating hesitation after coming up with the ball and taking the first quality look that presented itself. They’d eventually go ahead by 23, requiring an unlikely comeback from the Wizards to force a pair of overtimes. That comeback was at least in part due to the game slowing down, the Raptors less effectively pushing in transition and, when they did, making a few uncharacteristic errors on the run.