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Raptors defense: perimeter and center

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  • Raptors defense: perimeter and center

    I haven't missed a Raptors game over the last 2 or 3 seasons and on top of that I watch all of the Grizzlies, Spurs, Pacers and Heat games and then some more of other interesting matchups...

    All elite teams have one thing in common when it comes to defense: their perimeter players (knowing they can't ALWAYS stop their man from penetrating the paint) always at very least try to take away a drive to one or the other side and direct the offensive player to a certain spot, where they know that the offensive player is less comfortable or direct them to the side where the lane is crowded.

    Our perimeter defenders don't do ANY of that. Their individual man-on-man defense being mediocre at best, I would expect them to be strategic at least. But when they get beat, they (especially DeRozan and Gay) let their opponent get to where ever they want to and seemingly expect the bigs to make up for their mistakes.

    We often see JV having to switch as he's left alone to defend a perimeter player and a big under the basket, which often leads to easy points. Of course, JV could sometimes do a better job at timing his help defense, but it really doesn't help that neither Gay nor DeRozan seem to be interested of pursuing their matchups when they get beat on the initial move on the perimeter. They just let them go! And when they do that, they don't even direct them to a specific side or spot, they just let the offensive perimeter players create havoc and that CAN'T be allowed to happen!

    When I watch the aforementioned teams, I noticed that that their bigs are as good on defense as they are, mostly not because they are incredibly good on D (which they are), but because they know what to expect and where to be in case their perimeter teammates get beat on D. Everything is planned and very predicatable for those teams. When they get beat on perimeter D, they know where the guy will get through and where to he'll be able to go and somebody (BIG) is gonna be there on D waiting as planned... they just concede certain parts (letting a PG drive left, when he clearly prefers to go right and prepare the help D for that conceded side etc.).

    In our case JV and other bigs are way too often left alone in no man's land, where they're left to choose which player to defend on and which not and just hope one of them screws up while attacking. All because our perimeter players play really bad D without a plan, without taking away something from their matchups and they don't follow up on their screwups.

    I have yet to see any evidence of game planning the defense in that way from the Raptors. We should be able to clearly see some lanes being absolutely closed down and others left open, some spots conceded other entirely taken away. Instead it's all just a big disorganized mumbo jumbo that I see from our perimeter defense. And it doesn't make possible for our bigs to have the impact on D that they actually could have.

    In part it's on the players, but it's also on the coach. I mean, we should at least be able to see something that resembles a certain defensive game strategy, but all I can see is some mesmerizing rotations and questionable coaching decisions in general.

    I hope at least that, whichever way this season goes, JV will be getting increasingly more minutes and that our rotations become less surprising and less small-ball oriented.

    Go Raps!