Title: Why Marc Gasol can allow the Raptors to play a traditional centre against the Warriors
Date: June 1, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Marc Gasol’s defense in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and why the Raptors don’t have to do the conventional and match up small with the Warriors.
It happened almost in slow motion. The Golden State Warriors impose threats upon a defence with their speed and the overwhelming volume of player and ball movement on a given possession, and the Toronto Raptors were about to open up their largest lead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals by denying them that identity.
The play starts faster, with Klay Thompson flying around an off-ball screen to receive a post-entry pass from Andre Iguodala as his screener, Steph Curry, emptied out to the weak side. Kyle Lowry held steady against Thompson, as he’s wont to do, and Marc Gasol abandoned Jordan Bell in the weak corner, coming across the floor to double Thompson.
Gasol has done plenty of this in the postseason. Against the Milwaukee Bucks, his 7-foot frame helped keep Giannis Antetokounmpo uncomfortable to the extent that Antetokounmpo is still having visions of those double-teams. Historically, the Raptors have doubled post-ups more cautiously, executing a “base-go” where help is waiting along the baseline and the weak side is zoned up. Since acquiring Gasol, they’ve been more aggressive, especially so in the playoffs.