The Toronto Raptors are under .500 for the first time since the third game of the season on October 22. They are now 3-11 on the road after going 24-17 just a season ago.
Orlando no longer holds the worst record in the league, but they did when this two game series started on Friday. The Raptors’ struggles on offence continued, failing to hit the 100-point mark for only the fifth time in 27 games. Here’s why:
Offence ruining good defence
Toronto’s defence has had its ups and downs, however it was solid in the first half. The Magic committed 10 of their 14 turnovers and shot under 40 percent from the field. Despite that, the Raptors still found themselves down double digits until a Gary Trent Jr. three cut the deficit to eight at halftime. Trent led the team with 24 points, starting in place of O.G. Anunoby who missed his first game of the season with hip soreness.
Two factors contributed to the Raptors 39 first half points. First, Pascal Siakam missed a chunk of the half with four fouls. The third one was highly questionable as he tried to seal Terrence Ross for early post position and Ross simply flopped. Siakam only managed four points before halftime as a result. Outside of Trent, there wasn’t a consistent scoring threat. Scottie Barnes finished 3-13 and had zero assists. Half of Fred VanVleet’s points came from the free throw line. At times, the Raptors struggled to score against Orlando’s big lineup of Paolo Banchero, Bol Bol and Mo Bamba all playing at the same time.
Toronto compounded these problems by simply not making threes. They shot 2-13 from deep in the first half. As you can see below, the quality of looks weren’t a problem.
Over the last 30 days, the Raptors own the league’s worst three point percentage at 28.4.
“We had quite a few that were pretty open. It was like we were shooting turnaround jumpers from three.”Nick Nurse
..Then the defence ruins better offence
With Pascal keeping his fouls under check for the rest of the game, the Raptors went from 39 first half points to 60 in the second half. One problem though – Orlando answered with 64.
Toronto was in striking distance for much of the fourth quarter but perimeter breakdowns were a killer. Thaddeus Young had a hard time staying in front of guys in space. Miscommunications led to back breaking threes by Franz Wagner.
Wagner finished with 23 points, after scoring a season-high 34 in the first game on Friday.
“We had some critical breakdowns to give them threes at the wrong parts of the game, especially late fourth quarter. It’s too late in the game to have those type of breakdowns.”Fred VanVleet
Whatever remaining hopes in the final two minutes died after Banchero knocked down a couple of tough jumpers at the end of the shot clock. Banchero stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. He’s clearly the Rookie of the Year favourite right now.
Up Next: This was supposed to be the “easier” part of the schedule. Sacramento comes to town on Wednesday, looking to light the beam.