The Toronto Raptors’ defensive system is not working.

The Raptors aren't playing good defense. Is it structural, personnel-based, or a mix of both?

Rock bottom is only rock bottom until you find a rockier bottom.

I thought in November when I wrote that the Raptors are facing a math problem every night that the season would turn around. They were missing Pascal Siakam and struggling to a .500 record without the star, but in theory the problem Toronto faced was a solvable one. If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you; Toronto could have looked and turned around. 

Instead the Raptors have nosedived into the abyss, transmuting their identity into the very problem they faced earlier in the year. There is little else, at the moment, that defines them.

There are so many things that aren’t working right now for Toronto that it’s almost pointless to list them all. For example: I was writing a piece about Scottie Barnes’ pick-and-roll defense, which remains problematic, but it’s not really worse than anyone else’s on the team, so why focus on it? 

Toronto’s defensive struggles can’t be pinned on a single player. It’s not reasonable to point to Barnes giving up blowbys at the point of attack with no resistance whatsoever, not without pointing out that Fred VanVleet is often doing just the same. The backside help isn't there to contain, either. And when the Raptors do bottle up the drive, off-ball defenders are giving up back cuts. Toronto is failing even without the basketball as the focus of the play; the Warriors created open layups, as they are wont to do, simply by running off-ball screens and watching two defenders chase the cutter. (The only difference is that Steph Curry wasn’t playing in the game to warrant such defensive overreaction. Although, Jordan Poole was, and he finished with 43 points on 23 shots, so potAto potAHto.)

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