The Raptors are down 3-2 in the series but can still make it to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win on Monday night. However, they could also potentially be eliminated by virtue of Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young putting up double digits against them. They have been playing better on defense recently too, but their inability to control boards was an issue all season long that is rearing its ugly head now when Toronto needs it most…
The “where are the raptors playing” is a question that has been asked since the beginning of the season. The Raptors have not played well in recent games, and their loss to the depleted Nets boils down to the boards.
The Toronto Raptors were within striking distance of returning to.500, but they were unable to do it despite facing a very weakened Brooklyn Nets roster.
For the most part, the Raptors looked solid on offense, with Scottie Barnes hitting hooks and fadeaways, Fred VanVleet slicing up defenses from the perimeter and draining difficult triples, and Pascal Siakam getting to his spots and scoring effectively.
But, as has been the case for the most of the season, Toronto couldn’t manage to establish a steady stand on the opposite end of the floor. The defense was just porous at times throughout the game (especially in the first quarter), with Nets players charging in from outside the arc to get to the hoop. When the Raptors did earn stops in certain games, they couldn’t complete plays by grabbing defensive rebounds.
And therein lays the (main) thorn in the flesh.
The Raptors were outrebounded 60-41 at the end of the contest. Not only that, but the Nets grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, with David Duke Jr. (listed at 6’5″) leading the way with six of them.
“I think we simply didn’t do an acceptable job of blocking out or hustling or anything in the first half,” head coach Nick Nurse said after the game to reporters. “Of course, they had a lot of chances, offensive rebounds, and they took advantage of them.” In the second half, I felt we were quite competitive. At halftime, I believe they had 12 or 13 of those 19 players. So the first half wasn’t very nice, and the second half was a little bit better.”
The Raptors’ defensive system had once again fallen flat for stretches of the game amid a season marked by peaks and troughs. Indeed, the scrambling nature of the concept often causes players to be out of position, and recovery requires a significant amount of work, particularly without a real center, but it’s also something the club has done previously with considerably more success.
Simply said, this was not it. Except for an ephemeral third-quarter outburst, the five players on the court were out of rhythm, with errors galore. Chris Boucher, in particular, had a difficult night, appearing adrift possession by possession.
Barnes said, “They were just falling so hard.” “They just had a lot of effort, a lot of energy going in there and just trying to tip the ball out, grab rebounds, try to get easy points on the floor,” he said. All we had to do was be more aggressive and box out.”
In the end, games are seldom won or lost by a single aspect of a whole effort, and this one was a tight nail-biter in which the Raptors had several opportunities to win, from VanVleet’s attempt to close the fourth until the last minutes of overtime.
“It didn’t seem like we were quite prepared to handle the opening of the game,” Nurse said. “At the very least, we were able to reorganize at halftime.” I think we played quite hard—the boys, in particular, gave it their all. They were putting forth a lot of effort.”
Watch This Video-
- where do the raptors play
- toronto raptors logo
- toronto raptors lineup