Morning Coffee – Mon, Nov 22

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Warriors are reminder to Raptors that playing in a special way requires special players – The Athletic

Despite doing many of the things they have set out to do, the Raptors ranked 21st defensively coming into the game. They have turned their opponents over a lot but are giving that all back through over-fouling and surrendering good 3-point looks.

Still, against the Warriors, who will make you pay for overcommitment every time by cutting behind the play, Nurse’s message didn’t change.

“I think you are going to have to be aggressive because they’re aggressive on offence,” Nurse said. “What they really do is pass and cut, and they do it at a super-high rate of speed. So you can’t dial the aggressiveness down to guard that.”

There is a method to do that, as the Raptors showed when they were dialled in. Fred VanVleet defended the first possession brilliantly, following Curry around, snuggling in behind Green’s screen and swatting Curry’s attempted corner 3. You cannot guard Curry much better than that — as the rest of the game showed, not to mention most of this season, VanVleet has put in nearly as much time as anyone else mastering the craft.

Siakam also displayed the benefits of pressure, as he refused to go over a screen while guarding Andrew Wiggins, no matter how far he stepped back from the arc. Kevon Looney got charged for an illegal screen as a result.

However, you need two things to play that way with consistency — stamina and intelligence — and the Raptors lacked both. Trying a full-court press against the Warriors when Curry and Green are on the floor is certainly a decision a team could make, but the risk-reward math is poor. Green is too good a handler to give that much open floor to. Wiggins’ was one of seemingly endless open 3s the Warriors manufactured.

You have to know your personnel, too. Gary Trent Jr. had to help out two teammates as they trapped Curry, but he recovered way too hard to Chris Chiozza, an average shooter from deep. He made Trent pay with a layup. The Raptors went all-in on slowing Curry and held him to just a single 3 and 12 points. The other Warriors players hit 21 3s.

“I’d say they really move the ball, make sure everyone’s involved, get their shooters open a lot, really make a lot of 3s,” Barnes said of playing the Warriors for the first time. “You can just see it on the TV, they’re making all these 3-pointers. And it’s real.”

Raptors find no answers for uniquely unsolvable problems Warriors present

Meanwhile the Raptors struggled to score effectively for long stretches. Their fourth-quarter flurry aside, the Warriors and their league-leading defence held the Raptors to 39 per cent shooting, though their 17 offensive rebounds helped take the edge off that.

The challenge of selling out on Curry became evident in the first quarter. Instead of the NBA’s leading scorer doing damage it was Wiggins and Poole.

A perfect example: Curry runs baseline with all eyes on him, but instead of flashing for the ball he stops short and sets a back screen on Gary Trent Jr., who is guarding Wiggins. Wiggins cuts to the basket, both Wiggins and Trent Jr. watch Curry and Wiggins gets a lay-up.

Or Curry runs laps around the half-court, all the Raptors getting pulled into his orbit, until the ball gets swung to weak side and Wiggins is wide open for a three.

Or the Raptors extend their defence after a made basket, in part to deny Curry, only to have the ball rocket 90 feet in three passes and fewer seconds, finding a wide-open Wiggins in the corner for another three. The former No.1 overall pick from Vaughan, Ont., had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting in his first eight minutes on the floor, while Poole had 10 on 3-of-4 shooting and the Warriors led 36-24.

Curry? He had six on 1-of-4 shooting, but two assists and no worries. It’s not like the Warriors haven’t seen this before. They’ve seen everything.

Part of the reason for why the Warriors don’t stress too much when teams put everything into slowing down Curry is that, even if it works, their secret – or at least less heralded – weapon is their defence.

You know the way the Raptors want to have five guys on the floor who can guard multiple positions and switch any action, thus keeping the ball stalled on the perimeter for long chunks of the shot clock?

The Warriors want to do that too, only they are more accomplished at it. It helps to have Green laying back, anticipating an opponent’s every play, but the Warriors aren’t just a pretty basketball team.

They’re smart, and they compete.

Raptors keep Curry cold, but Wiggins & Poole lead Dubs to 119-104 win – Golden State Of Mind

The Raptors have given Cury problems throughout his career, and that was still the case on Sunday. Curry was 1-for-6 from the field in the first half and finished 2-for-10 with just 12 points. Yet, Toronto’s attention on Curry came with a cost. Steph was happy to create space for his teammates all game, and they took advantage.

Wiggins and Poole did the bulk of the work, knocking down open shots and beating their defenders all game. Poole finished the game 10-for-13 from the field with 33 points. Not to be outdone, Wiggins shot 6-for-8 from deep and recorded 32 points of his own.

Otto Porter Jr. also benefitted from Toronto’s hyperfocus on Curry. While the Raptors did a good job limiting Curry’s space, they struggled all game to account for the Dubs’ other threats from deep. Porter had several wide-open attempts and knocked in 5 of his 8 attempts from three.

The Warriors rested Gary Payton II and held Andre Iguodala out again with right knee soreness. Payton’s absence opened up some minutes for guard Chris Chiozza, who turned 26 on Sunday. Chiozza took advantage of the extra playing time on his birthday, making a pair of threes in the first half and scoring 11 points off the bench.

While the shooters carried the load offensively, the Warriors starting bigs both had productive games as well. Green scored just 4 points but had 14 rebounds, 8 assists, and just one turnover. Kevon Looney filled the stat-sheet as well with 7 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

Toronto Raptors fall way short, lose to Golden State Warriors 119-104 – Raptors HQ

The Raptors themselves weren’t bad behind the arc, tying their season-high 15 three-pointers. However, the team got caught playing too much ISO ball when they found so much success by getting in the paint and kicking out and the occasional PnR/DHO actions. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 21 points and six rebounds, while Fred VanVleet’s offense surfaced a little too late, dropping 17 points and seven assists.

The Raptors’ offense paled in contrast to the excellent unselfish ball movement with the Warriors. The half-court offense lacked imagination and stagnated a lot and often. I’m not saying that the Raptors have a lot of selfish players, but the Raptors are not that talented enough to rely on individual plays. The Raptors’ ball movement and offensive IQ are far from the team that defeated this Warriors team a few years ago. Right now, the Raptors just have too many players that are closer to Serge Ibaka’s playmaking than Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry’s unselfishness in getting the ball moving.

The Raptors laboured in the half-court offense to start the game, and their efforts to contain Curry showed plenty of holes defensively. The Warriors’ passing and perimeter shooting got them off to a 16-5 start, with Wiggins and Poole combining for the Warriors’ 16 points. Everything looked easy for the Warriors, as they pushed their lead to 27-9 as Wiggins notches his 14th point. Dalano Banton, with the immediate impact off the bench, put up a quick four points and two assists to spur a 13-5 run to end the quarter, as the Warriors lead 36-24.

The Raptors managed to cut the lead to single-digit a couple of times. Still, their inability to keep the Warriors from getting a wide-open look behind the arc prevented them from making this a competitive game. Otto Porter Jr found Kevon Looney under the basket to put the Warriors up 49-32, but the Raps would go on a 9-4 run to stop me from creating an early “Raps lost” summary before halftime. Chris Chiozza’s (who?) five straight points sandwiched Trent Jr’s three-pointer, and it looked like the Warriors were poised to blow this game away, but Barnes found Siakam for a trifecta to keep it somewhat of a game with the Raptors trailing 47-61 at the half.

The third quarter looked promising for the Raptors, as Siakam hit back-to-back three-pointers to help the Raptors go on an 8-3 run the bring the lead down to nine. Wiggins would put a stop to that run as he hits his 6th three-pointer in a row. The Warriors would get their bearings back and showed the Raptors how to move the ball and execute their offense, as they would push the lead to 19. Barnes hit his third three-pointer of the season, but he picked up his fourth foul on Kevon Looney’s layup attempt.

Unlike in the first half, the foul trouble did not negatively affect Barnes. Instead, he looked more aggressive, scoring five more points in consecutive possessions. Unfortunately, the Warriors’ snipers were unstoppable tonight, as Poole dropped three bombs from behind the arc, pushing the Warriors’ lead to 89-69. VanVleet would come alive and score five quick points to help the Raptors go on a fake 8-3 run to finish the third frame, with a “manageable” deficit of 77-92.

Coach Nurse looked like he was just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks; he inserted Malachi Flynn to start the quarter, going with an all-bench lineup. The Warriors took advantage of the Raptors’ inexperienced lineup, pushing the lead back up to 18. There seems to be something with death, taxes, and Flynn needing to shake off early jitters. Once Flynn warmed up, he made a mark right away when he stole the ball from Curry and found a cutting Chris Boucher for a layup in one sequence. The next play down, he found a cutting Precious Achiuwa for an “And-1.”

Raptors Focused on Development in Loss to Warriors – Sports Illustrated

The formula has become too simple: Drive to the rim or come off a screen, get the Raptors scrambling, wait for confusion to ensue, and then find the open man. It’s a game plan that’s been executed flawlessly by Toronto’s opponents as of late. But, for now, the Raptors will live with it.

“We’re making some progress,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said pre-game “Some of the things we had on command aren’t quite there but we’re getting there. … I think everyone understands, from me to the team that there is a process of getting some of this stuff figured out. We’ve still got to teach it and if it’s not quite right we got to teach in again and try to polish it up as much as we can.”

That process is why Toronto isn’t just giving up on its defensive strategy. It’s why the Raptors continued sending two to the ball, trapping Steph Curry, and trying to wreak havoc all while the Warriors racked up assists like a well-oiled machine. Sure, Curry was held to just 18 points on 2-for-10 shooting  — credit to Fred VanVleet — but Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins lit up the scoreboard for 33 and 32 points, respectively, taking advantage of Toronto’s miscommunication and chaotic rotations. The Warriors as a team tallied up 22 three-pointers, shooting 49% from behind the arc.

“I think a couple of times we were slow getting out there when we probably should have anticipated getting out there a little sooner,” Nurse said. “Then a couple of times, I thought we ran them off unnecessarily. We were there too soon and we ran right past them when we probably could have sat right down and guarded them.

“I thought we did a great job on Curry I think our rotations, we need to look at them, but I think we’re making some progress on some of this stuff as far as some of the things we want to do.”

Sunday night showed just how far the Raptors are from being title contenders. The Warriors jumped by 20 in the first quarter and never really looked back. But the Raptors are learning, or at least that’s the hope, and when it does come together, if it does, Toronto should have the kind of versatile, lockdown defense that spurred Golden State on to its dynastic run.

The sharpshooting Warriors are too much for Nick Nurse’s students of defence | The Star

Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole lit the Raptors up for a combined 62 points and 13 three-pointers as the Warriors registered a 119-104 victory at the Chase Center to extend their NBA-best record to 15-2.

The Raptors were maybe just a junked-up defence or two away from stealing a win on a night when the offence struggled. They played hard and cut a 20-point deficit in half in about five minutes of the fourth quarter but couldn’t string together enough stops all night to make a serious run.

This group that Nurse is coaching, an amalgam of two or three time-honed old heads and handful of regulars still learning their craft, may eventually get to that point but it’s unfair to ask for much intricacy at the moment.

“We’re making some progress,” Nurse said before the game. “Some of the things we had on command (in the past) aren’t quite there, but we’re getting there.”

What the Raptors do regularly, like play hard and get deflections and create turnovers, can work quite well against a lot of NBA teams. But the Warriors, with a lot of veterans and an array of shooters and distributors are far from a regular NBA team.

They make more three-pointers than any team in the league and are in the top five in long-range attempts and percentage. When they are shooting as well as they did Sunday, they are a tough matchup for any team.

“I think everyone understands, from me to the team, that there is a process of getting some of this stuff figured out,” Nurse said. “We still got to teach it and, if it’s not quite right, we got to teach it again and try to polish it up as much as we can.”

Raps handle Curry, but it’s the other Warriors that beat them | Toronto Sun

The Raptors did a great job, perhaps the best job of the young NBA season, limiting Curry but it clearly came at the expense of the rest of their defence and they paid a huge price.

Between them, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole hurt the Raptors to the tune of 55 points as the Warriors re-asserted their dominance in a 119-104 win.

Poole and Wiggins had the type of night from behind the arc many probably expected from Curry going into this game.

But credit the Warriors and Curry for understanding that Fred VanVleet, with the occasional pitch-in from a teammate, just weren’t going to let Curry have any breathing room. Beause of that, the Warriors moved the ball to the open shooters and took advantage there.

Wiggins has been a 33% guy from three so far this season. Poole has been a tick under 30%.

But with VanVleet laser-focussed on Curry and the rest of the Raptors hyper-aware with the help on the league’s leading scorer, Wiggins and Poole got a ton of uncontested attempts from behind the arc and they rarely missed.

Wiggins was 6-for-8 from distance for the bulk of his 32 points while Poole also benefited from some great looks, though he made a few tightly contested ones as well in the 8-for-11 night from three and game high 33 points.

But 65 combined points from that pair, hot on the heels of a 59-point duel effort a couple of nights earlier in Detroit when Kerr and Company sat both Curry and Green down for a rest has to have the league looking a little harder at these two from this point on.

The Raptors spent the majority of the game down double digits and as many as 20 at one point, but cut it to an even 10 with just under 8:00 to play, as VanVleet showed off his offensive chops with a couple of three pointers of his own.

That was as close as the Raptors would get as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called a time out and his squad responded with an 11-0 run to bump the lead all the way back up to 21.

The Raptors can learn from the Warriors, two years after shattering their dreams | The Star

Last week, Warriors coach Steve Kerr, in a lighthearted call-out of those who’d sold his team short in the lead-up to the season, compared himself to Arya Stark, a character from the TV series “Game of Thrones” known as a baby-faced seeker of ruthless vengeance.

“I’m like Arya from ‘Game of Thrones.’ I have all the names of the media members who picked us to be outside the playoffs, and I’m just checking off the box,” Kerr told reporters. “I used to have to do that for a living a long time ago, and it’s really hard to make predictions and prognostications. So I don’t pay too close attention to that. I think as a coach you kind of feel a vibe in training camp and you can kind of tell what kind of team you’re going to have. Where you are emotionally as a group, it really matters. Two years ago we were shattered, literally and figuratively.”

If the Warriors were shattered two years ago, this year they’ve skilfully put it back together. And as much as it’s Curry’s otherworldly shooting that often grabs the headlines, what’s also worth following from a Raptors perspective is that the foundation of Golden State’s renaissance is defensive.

The Warriors boast nothing less than the best defensive rating in the league. For all of Siakam’s inconsistencies as an offensive force, Raptors fans had to be heartened to hear him acknowledge the most disappointing aspect of his work this season, specifically his spotty defensive engagement.

“I have to keep my consistency on defence … and I think that’s something that I have to get better at, and I have to bring that intensity every single night so everyone can follow,” Siakam said.

It’s one thing to say it, of course, and another thing to bring it. If the Raptors hope to rain vengeance on the critics who’ve allegedly underestimated their potential, at least Siakam has identified the end of the floor where the cleanup needs to begin.

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