What other team can look like a top 5 defensive team one night and then two nights later look like one of the worst defensive teams in the league? The Toronto Raptors were slated to have a showdown with their former finals opponents, The Golden State Warriors as a part of the NBA’s new rivals week but Golden State left everyone questioning how this could be a rivalry. Long gone was the cohesion from the Kings game, the off ball defensive savvy, long gone was the communication that was so beautiful against Sacramento, last nights defensive performance was one of the worst i’ve seen from Toronto. There were too many back cuts, the transition defense was horrendous, the rim defense was awful, just a really bad game from Toronto on that end. Even with this awful defense being played this game was still fairly close in the fourth quarter thanks to a lot of help offensively from Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa. Pascal Siakam did have 21 points but he shot 8/26 to get it.
Pascal for the past couple weeks has not looked like the All NBA star he looked like to begin the season. He isn’t getting to the rim as much, he’s relying on his in between game a lot or trying to draw fouls a whole bunch and what we are seeing is a man who is exhausted. League leader in minutes per game, top 3 in miles traveled on defense, just an insane workload for the engine of your team’s offense but right now I think this engine needs to go to the shop for some tuning up. Pascal definitely needs to rest or not play so many minutes because at this rate he is going to be negatively affected in the long term.
Fred VanVleet however has been magnificent offensively for a couple weeks, leaving behind the ugly start to the season he had, the shooting touch is back, he’s been a really great pick and roll playmaker, and he’s getting to the rim a bunch and this was all true against Golden State.
Scottie Barnes has continued his offensive excellence and he did it in a number of different ways against Golden State. He and Fred VanVleet have found a wonderful harmony on the court and Fred has done a great job finding Scottie on rolls after a screen and after cuts and post entries. Scottie hit 2 threes last night, one of them off a stepback and one in the corner after a feed from VanVleet. He used his strength and size to get some back to the basket looks as well and even got downhill himself at times. Scottie’s passing also continues to impress as he had 5 assists last night and he had a really nice disguised floater lob to Precious that just shows off his creativity and feel for the game.
Precious Achiuwa had another nice game on offense last night as he scored 17 points largely at the rim off of cuts. Precious seems to have slowed down on offense lately and he’s finding pockets of space to cut into and he;s really making his presence felt on the glass with all the offensive rebounding. There are always a couple plays per game that really make you marvel at Precious and late in the 4th quarter he attacked Kevon Looney as he was closing out to him and had a really nice finish soaring through the air. Just a wonderful player.
Even with all this happening on offense the Raptors allowed the Warriors to shoot 90% at the rim which is unacceptable, Golden State had a season high 40 assists as well and this game truly feels like the breaking point. With the trade deadline approaching it is beyond time for a shakeup to happen with this team. Next up are the Portland Trail Blazers and with the way Damian Lillard has been playing lately it would be no shock if he torched Toronto.
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