Toronto’s defense showed its real upside in a brief moment against the Hornets

Toronto had a perfect defensive stand. Let's break it down.

Archimedes almost didn't realize that he had discovered how to measure the volume of an irregular body. He wasn't allowed to melt it down (apparently, it was a golden crown, and he was supposed to measure if there was any silver inside without harming the object in any way), which made it a tough problem to solve. Naturally, he took the crown into the tub with him to think. Realizing the water rose when he dunked the crown underneath, he discovered -- completely by chance -- the solution.

If you dozed off watch the Toronto Raptors spank the Charlotte Hornets for the second game in a row, you would be forgiven. There were some small delights, including O.G. Anunoby spinning around the Hornets several times with the lithe and smooth agility usually reserved for his teammate Pascal Siakam. But mostly, it was a fairly good team beating a tanking team. Yawn.

So like Archimedes, you might have missed the Raptors displaying the reason why they play defense the way they do. The general perception behind their aggressive defensive strategy is that it's both high reward (lots of turnovers forced) and high risk (oh boy do opponents shoot well from the field). But that risk doesn't have to be there. For a brief moment against the Hornets, the Raptors transcended the plane of economical thinking and -- like LeBron James before them -- became better than the idealized version of their own defense.

It comes at the end of the third quarter. Toronto picks up full court, which is the best way to derail an offense anyway. The Hornets don't get into the first component of their offense until there are 16 seconds left on the shot clock. It's a high pick and roll, and Christian Koloko plays at the level of the screen, a few feet above the 3-point arc. Even though Chris Boucher's man is almost at half court, he waits near the nail, intending to dissuade a quick-hit pass to the roller. He fails, and a bounce pass gets through.

This should mean death for a defense. The Hornets have (theoretically) a 3-on-2 below the free-throw line, which means they really get to choose how they want to consume their foes. Boil them? Fry them? Bake them? It's all on the table. To stretch Toronto further, Charlotte's strong-side spacer in the corner relocates to the weak-side corner, meaning his defender technically should be further from the play and less able to rotate to protect the rim.

Instead though, they wind up with nothing. Not because of poor offensive choices but because Toronto's defensive shell teleports to take away all those deaths and replace them with cushy landings.

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