You know the drill by now. Raptors HQ gives us the nitty gritty on their team, who are just one win away from the NBA Finals.
What areas are Toronto attacking Milwaukee on offense?
Milwaukee’s defense is limiting on the inside, yet the Raptors’ scoring options are varied. The Bucks tend to focus their defensive effort on one man: Kawhi Leonard. He is a master of the midrange, a strong finisher at the rim, and a proficient shooter from beyond the arc. So, when he’s given extra attention on drives, there are plenty of options left open from beyond the arc. Most of the time, Milwaukee will pack the paint; however, this has become an issue for the Bucks. While the Raptors have succeeded in closing out effectively on their defenders, the Bucks have not. Over the last three games, just 22.7% of Milwaukee’s three point attempts have been wide open, while that percentage is much higher for the Raptors – 28.4%. Of course, it helps that the Raptors have also been capitalizing on those wide-open opportunities, shooting an impressive 40.3%.
Inside the arc, the Raptors often score off passes from Kyle Lowry or Marc Gasol finding crafty cutters to the rim. Norman Powell loves to drive, as does Pascal Siakam when he’s given space. Toronto’s jump shots consist mostly of Kyle pick and pops (which often benefit Serge Ibaka), or Kawhi Leonard taking on multiple defenders by himself. The Klaw loves to work in isolation, separating himself from his defender with a hesitation dribble or step-back. He can do this over multiple defenders too, apparently. Don’t ask me how, I truly have no idea. He’s ridiculous.
The Raptors transition defense has been really good. Do you believe this has been the key for Toronto’s wins?
Toronto’s transition defense was actually somewhat mediocre in Game 3, though it saw a huge improvement in the blowout victory of Game 4. The Raptors’ hustle that night was impeccable - despite turning the ball over 12 times, they pressured the Bucks in transition and allowed just 5 points off turnovers. I’d argue though that last game, Toronto’s half-court defense was far more impressive than their transition defense. The Raptors may have only turned the ball over six times on Thursday night, but still managed to give up a ghastly 19 points off those turnovers. If Toronto doesn’t want to let this series slip away, they must tighten back up in that area where the Greek Freak’s long strides and equally long arms can be deadly.
Please give my readers any reason why they should still have hope?
Last series, the Raptors went up 3-2 on the 76ers and everyone thought they had it in the bag. Sounds familiar, right? Then, the Raptors got blown out in embarrassing fashion, forcing a fluky Game 7. Kawhi happened to hit a ridiculous, once-in-a-lifetime shot over Joel Embiid, but this is a new series. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a pessimistic nervous wreck, but I wouldn’t rule out the Bucks coming back strong and putting up a great fight. They’re an excellent team, led by the league’s likely-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo – as Kevin Garnett once said, “anything is possible.”
Make sure to check out Kyle’s perspective over on Raptors HQ.