The turning point against Golden State came when Stephen Curry calmly drained three threes in the opening 3:30 of the fourth quarter. The Raptors defense on those three plays is the subject of today’s post. I’ve compiled a video of the three threes, have a look:
Play 1: This is a classic case of not communicating. There are a couple screens being set at the top of the key and you can tell that there is no communication between Bosh, Jack and Johnson. The result is Jarrett Jack being stuck behind a screen with the deadliest shooter on the floor left wide open. Jack’s effort in sticking with Curry is very poor, he’s allowed himself to be taken out very easily by a screen and Bosh is left to rotate out to a Curry. We should not be relying on Chris Bosh to make those kinds of rotations, the onus should be on the guards to handle these screens on their own instead of creating a help situation.
Play 2: This is more of Jarrett Jack not bothering to get through a screen, whether this is part of the plan or not, I don’t know. Either way, Jack’s more than willing to get switched on to the big and is expecting Bosh to hedge hard. However, Bosh is backing off Curry and worrying about his man and the result is Curry being given about 5 feet of space to launch his jumper. Once again this is an example of failed communication – Bosh and Jack were on two different pages here. This is Game 76 and we’re in the middle of a playoff race which makes this even more of an unacceptable sequence. Simple defensive techniques like these should be ironed out in training camp and here we are discussing how to defend the most basic of sets. It also speaks to the Raptors game-preparation, do you honestly think we went into this game with a plan on how to defend Curry? And as much as I like Jack, his effort on these plays induces puke.
Play 3: Not to rip on Jarrett Jack too much, but this is another example of him being a little too eager to concede a big-on-small switch. He’s trailing the ball after the screen is set but needs to continue chasing Curry so that Bargnani isn’t left in a perimeter matchup with Curry. Instead, Jack has switched on Bargnani’s man in the low-block as if that’s going to make any difference when it comes to rebounding or defending. He’s got to stick with Curry. It’s as simple as that. Switching without rhyme or reason isn’t playing defense, it’s just being lazy.
After these three plays, Jarrett Jack got fired up and took it upon himself to make Curry pay the price on the other end, he was aggressive with his offense and ended up with 16 fourth quarter points. I have no doubt that Jack can play defense when he’s “into the game”, but seeing him perform so poorly during this critical stretch of the game in this critical part of the season makes me wonder what kind of cloth he’s cut from. Or maybe it speaks more to the coaching staff of the Raptors who obviously fail to point obvious things like “Make sure Curry doesn’t get clean looks”.
I don’t know, I’m just left with a sense of deep frustration when this is the defensive strategy and effort put forth by my favorite team.