Title:Raptors’ zone defence an effective and intriguing option, but they don’t want to have to rely on it
Date: January 30, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ highly effective zone defense usage so far this year.
The Raptors defence appeared to be struggling again Sunday. While the Raptors are No. 7 on that end of the floor on the season and have hung around the fringes of the top 10 over the last month as players have rotated in and out of the lineup, it has at times felt underwhelming given the talent at hand. The base assumption with the Raptors’ rotation instability has been that the offence would suffer most, given the chemistry and familiarity factors at play, and here it was the defence letting them down against the Dallas Mavericks.
Maybe that should have been expected. Communication is such a key part of team defence that it would logically take some time to reestablish when reinserting pieces and tweaking combinations. Again, the Raptors weren’t a disaster or anything, grading as a slightly above-average defence the last month or so, but Dallas was getting into their teeth effectively, attacking the paint for free throws and finding shooters. Through 42 minutes, Dallas had scored 112.8 points per 100 possessions.
As he’s done often this year when the defence stumbled or when communication was at a premium, Nick Nurse called for a zone defence.
“It was just an onslaught in the paint so we had to try something to slow ’em down,” Nurse said. “The zone’s funny, a lot of it is kind of determined by your first couple possessions on it, maybe even the first possession. You switch to zone, and I think we got a stop, we got one more, then we strung up some, and that was the only stretch of the second half that we were able to put any sort of consecutive stops together.”