Title: Another big comeback and a franchise-record winning streak beg the question: Is anything unlikely for the Raptors anymore?
Date: February 5, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors bucking convention and probability yet again this year, culminating in a franchise-record 12-game winning streak.
For all the good Serge Ibaka was doing Wednesday, his 3-point shot had eluded him. Amidst one of the best scoring nights of his career, Ibaka was just 1-of-6 from outside the arc.
It was not entirely uncharacteristic given the broader view of Ibaka as a shooter. He has oscillated as a 3-point shooter, developing himself into a more modernized stretch-four in Oklahoma City and then seeing that shot come and go as role and variance dictated. More recently, Ibaka seemed to have settled in as a pick-and-pop threat inside the arc, capable of knocking down long 2s like few others, enough to provide spacing even as his 3-point percentage dipped below 30 a year ago.
It stood out through the lens of 2020 Ibaka, though. He is notorious in Raptors circles for his methodical commitment to his workouts and game preparation. That meticulousness has included a recent tweak in his 3-point shot aimed at eradicating a common issue: that his 3s have tended to come up a little short in his colder stretches. The changes have worked, as Ibaka entered Wednesday’s game shooting a career-best 39.6 percent on nearly four attempts per-36 minutes, including a 45.1-percent mark since the turn of the calendar.
And so it was a little strange that on a night when Ibaka had everything else working on offence, his renewed weapon was missing. Ibaka does not strike a particularly shakable figure anyway, but with 30.4 seconds left against the Indiana Pacers, there was no time to think about it. Kyle Lowry sent a pass his way and Ibaka let it fly, muscle memory taking over and consciousness only checking in once the ball had left his hands.