Title: Raptors can’t lose centre battle against Celtics as badly as in Game 1
Date: August 30, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ centres being outplayed by Boston in Game 1, a can’t-have for this series.
The Raptors were on their heels early, and yet their weight was still too far forward for Daniel Theis.
After opening Game 1 of their second-round series with the Boston Celtics by going nearly three minutes without scoring, it was on defence where the Raptors were bending. A few Celtics 3s clearly showed they were ready to execute against the base defensive game plan. The Raptors were overcompensating a bit, uncharacteristically out of sync over the game’s early possessions. It was that incongruousness — and the threat of Kemba Walker hand-off actions — that had Marc Gasol up so high on the floor when the ball swung to Theis.
In a somewhat unusual sight for Gasol against opposing bigs, Theis blew by him like he wasn’t a borderline All-Defense candidate while healthy this year. A quick fake toward his left as if a hand-off were coming got Gasol leaning forward and to his right, and Theis quickly veered back to Gasol’s left and past him. All Gasol could do was offer a tame reach, adding one point on to the easy 2 with no threat to the actual basket. It was a bad foul, even with no help in the paint because the Raptors’ defenders in the corners weren’t expecting a Theis attack to produce an emergency situation at the rim.