The Toronto Raptors are facing a math problem

The Toronto Raptors are fighting a losing math battle, every night. Why, and how to address it.

The Battle of Thermopylae may be remembered for its heroism or its brutality or its geopolitical relevance, depending on your point of view, but it could just as equally be remembered for its cavernous mathematical imbalance. King Leonidas of Sparta commanded 7,000 Greeks, and King Xerxes of Persia commanded perhaps 100,000. The math was firmly in the invaders' favour -- unyieldingly so.

The Toronto Raptors face a similar mathematical gulf. On one hand, the Raptors are bricking their way to an effective field goal percentage of just 51.3, the fifth worst in the league. They don't have a particularly analytically inclined shot spectrum, with few threes and few layups (even though Nick Nurse spoke before the season about wanting to add far, far more layups to the offensive diet). And they aren't very efficient from one area of the floor versus another, shooting below the league average from the rim, the midrange, and deep as well.

On the other hand, the Raptors are allowing opponents to enjoy an effective field goal percentage of 54.9, the seventh-worst defensive mark in the league. Opposing teams take a huge percentage of shots from the rim and behind the arc, and even though they're not particularly above league average in any individual area, such a tasty shot spectrum will generally result in efficient points.

The Raptors are facing an efficiency gap. All told, they have the third-worst efficiency gap in the league, subtracting their effective field goal percentage from opponents' marks. In a way, every game must be fought uphill.

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