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Old 11-22-2012, 06:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Koreen: fixing late game collapses

This was from before last night's game, where they did a little better by coming from behind down the stretch. Whether you think his suggestions are applicable or not, they do point to the kind of mish mash of players that has served us poorly for years now.

Examining the Toronto Raptors’ four late-game collapses | NBA | Sports | National Post

On Wednesday morning, Zach Lowe of Grantland tweeted the following statistic, via nba.com: In the final five minutes of games in which the margin has been five points or fewer, the Toronto Raptors are a league-worst minus-34 points.

That came after a disastrous loss on Tuesday in which the Raptors lost the final five minutes to Philadelphia by a total of 11 points. Toronto has had four awful final stretches this year — twice against Indiana, once against Utah and Tuesday against the Sixers — in which they have been outscored 53-20. They wound up losing three of those four games. That is why the Raptors are 3-8 heading into Wednesday’s game against Charlotte and not 6-5.
While there is no single thread that holds all four collapses together, there should be three lessons for head coach Dwane Casey and his Raptors in such contests.

Give Bargnani a shorter leash: First of all, Bargnani should never, ever, be playing centre, even in matchups like Tuesday’s when Philadelphia went small. The Raptors averaged just five points in the final five minutes of those four games, which means he is not helping the offence in any meaningful way no matter where he is playing on the floor. Casey is in a tough spot here, since Bargnani is a former first-overall pick who is making US$10-million. But the coach’s job is to maximize the output of the roster, and Bargnani has been dreadful this season. Nobody should have a problem with minimizing Bargnani’s floor time when he is producing at his current pace.

Use the two-point guard lineup sparingly: Lowry and Calderon played with Bargnani behind them down the stretch on Tuesday, which is the perfect storm for a defensive collapse. However, unless Dwight Howard is the centre, two-point guard lineups almost always give up more defensively than they produce offensively. Unless the Raptors are looking to erase a deficit in situations where there almost certainly will be a timeout or foul following the possession, the two point guards should not play together down the stretch. Again, Casey is in a tough sport here: Major injuries to Landry Fields and Alan Anderson have left a thinned-out swingman rotation, and Casey trusts Calderon more than swingmen Linas Kleiza or Terrence Ross.

Play Valanciunas and Johnson together: Johnson is the Raptors’ best defensive big man. Valanciunas has tremendous shot-blocking ability, although he has had trouble staying on the floor. They have played just eight minutes together this regular season. It is possible the two players might not mesh. But for a team that is struggling defensively, it seems like the combination is due an extended look.
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