The Toronto Raptors didn’t begin their West Coast street journey in one of the best trend, as they have been dominated within the fourth quarter by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Whereas this Nuggets staff is a playoff squad out West, Nick Nurse beat them earlier within the yr, they usually have been enjoying this sport with out star guard Jamal Murray.
None of that mattered in Denver, as Mike Malone and this new-look offense beat the brakes off of Toronto. This sport underscored why this season has been so difficult for the Raptors, particularly on the defensive aspect of the ball.
Contemplating his season averages, Jokic didn’t play very effectively towards Toronto, because the Joker solely managed 19 factors, 11 rebounds, and simply two assists. The identical protection that Kevin Durant credited after it held him to only 13 factors was in a position to restrict Jokic on this contest.
Sadly, the remainder of the Nuggets have been in a position to choose up the slack. Six different Denver gamers have been in double-figures, together with Michael Porter Jr. (23), JaMychael Inexperienced (15), and Facundo Campazzo (12). The Raptors have confirmed they will cease stars, however they will’t appear to cease the secondary scorers from lighting them up.
The Toronto Raptors should not enjoying good protection.
The Raptors are permitting one of many league’s highest percentages of wide-open (six toes or extra of separation) 3-point makes an attempt this season, and this type of crashing down on opposing stars might need one thing to do with it. Toronto was additionally tied for second with reference to nook 3-pointers allowed.
The Raptors have good perimeter defensive gamers, evidenced by OG Anunoby, however their high quality on that aspect of the ball is being undercut by a scheme that has gotten Toronto into hassle this season. Nurse’s defensive schemes have been an enormous motive the Raptors have been in a position to win the championship in 2019, however they aren’t serving him very effectively this yr.
The very fact the Nuggets have been in a position to rating like this with out Murray must be very regarding.
That is a part of the issue for the Toronto Raptors this yr. The identical gamers from final yr’s staff, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka excluded, are operating the identical schemes on the defensive aspect of the ball, but they’re getting fully totally different outcomes.
Protecting gamers like Jokic and Durant in test and forcing tertiary scorers to beat you isn’t a nasty thought in any respect. Actually, it’s superb. Nevertheless, the best way Nurse goes about implementing these concepts has been underwhelming, to say the least, and this may very well be the ultimate nail within the coffin for Toronto’s playoff hopes.