Hardwood Paroxysm: It's the defense
Old 01-03-2014, 01:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hardwood Paroxysm: It's the defense

Open Shots: Weekly Attempts at NBA Clarity – Hardwood Paroxysm

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Pay Attention to the Defense Behind the Purple Curtain
The success of Toronto in a post-Rudy Gay world canít be denied. The Raptors are 8-3 since trading the high-usage, low-impact wing to Sacramento on December 9th, and have officially reached this periodís zenith after Wednesdayís 95-82 win over the East-leading Pacers. While Torontoís quality of opponent throughout this stretch hasnít always been so high, the new-look Raptors havenít exactly preyed on a terribly weak schedule, either: they notched consecutive road wins against Dallas and Oklahoma City before Christmas, and are 5-1 away from home after unloading Gay. Just as impressive? Two of those three losses came at the hands of the San Antonio machine, and the other was an overtime defeat by the competent Bobcats. Even more so? Torontoís +6.2 net rating per 100 possessions over the same time frame.

Presently at least, the Raptors are indeed the type of team this recent run of success suggests. That +6.2 net mark would rank fifth in the league from a year-long perspective, aligning nicely with Torontoís .727 winning percentage since trading its nominal star. But within that context of advanced statistics comes another pertinent takeaway, and itís one the narrative has avoided so far.

For all talk of strides the Raptors have made offensively without Gay Ė the players espouse it too, as expertly documented by James Herbert Ė theyíve enjoyed an even bigger seachange on the other end. Toronto boasts an awesome 97.9 defensive rating in its last 11 games, despite facing offensive juggernauts like the Spurs (twice!), Thunder, and Mavericks. While the rest of Torontoís opponents since December 9th are almost as offensively dormant as that trio is dominant, the numbers still bear out major defensive improvement from the Raptors. Their scheduleís collective offensive rating over the last 11 games is 101.6, and thatís factoring in games against suddenly stingy Toronto. These guys can play defense!

Donít completely avoid the ďWeíre finally moving the ball! All for one!Ē talk, though. The Raptorsís 104.1 offensive rating without Gay is 2.7 points better than their mark prior to the deal, and Kyle Lowryís drastically improved play canít go unnoticed (by the trade market too, mind you). But even more progress has been made on the less flashy side of the ball, and itís what seems most sustainable for this organization moving forward. Dwayne Casey is a defensive coach first and foremost, after all, and the shelf-life of an Amir Johnson-Jonas Valanciunas frontcourt is more tenable than any combination on the perimeter.

Regardless, Torontoís been reborn post-Gay. And considering Masai Ujiriís reputation and the increasing trade value (combined with the offensive influence) of Lowry, itís the renaissance on defense thatís most likely to be a hallmark for the Raptors no matter where they go from here.
I like this a bunch. And it is in fact why this team can still succeed to some degree if Kyle is traded. Seeing this team pile up the stops in the 1st and 4th quarters against Indy was a joyous experience.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Agreed that the defense has been great lately. Loving watching this team lately. I'd almost forgotten what that feels like. I've pitched my ideas plenty, and they stand, but I'm enjoying this enough that I'm willing to see wherever Ujiri wants to take this team.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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by and large, over the course of a game, I like the cumulative beauty of good defence for 48 minutes over a flashy dunk or timely three. thanks for posting lx.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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subjectively, our defense is better, but objectively, I think we've been top 10 in defense all season long.

I think most of the improvements post gay come from the fact that many players perform better on D when they get touches offensively. In particular, JV looks like a different player defensively after the trade.

And we've added an excellent defender in Salmons and Ross does a great job too. If we keep playing hard, we can move up the rankings even more (defensively).
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ross has been good as a starter. Salmon, and PP are nice pieces of the bench. We move the ball much better post trade. Gay was a volume shooter and wasn't a good fit. A classic BC move.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tommy C View Post
Ross has been good as a starter. Salmon, and PP are nice pieces of the bench. We move the ball much better post trade. Gay was a volume shooter and wasn't a good fit. A classic BC move.
BC was a name on the back of the jersey GM. Ujiri is a name on the front GM.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Agreed that the defense has been great lately. Loving watching this team lately. I'd almost forgotten what that feels like. I've pitched my ideas plenty, and they stand, but I'm enjoying this enough that I'm willing to see wherever Ujiri wants to take this team.
This.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Gay was unreliable on the defensive end.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Dwane Casey. Defensive mastermind.

This is why he is an NBA champion.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Our defense is better because we are not getting killed in transition from bricks and missed shots where rudy would chuck them up the 2 bigs would expect a miss and go to the boards and get caught up court.

We make shots we can play defense. One took care of the other imo. and because we can play d we can get out in transition too. Ross, Lowry and JV have played better but the transition part now allows them to.

Deeper bench helps too.
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The team's defense has improved big time. Plus, it helps that MU got rid of 2 lazy players that couldn't care about defense, but only try on offense in Gay and Bargs.
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:22 PM   #12 (permalink)
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So we conclude that Gay was making us worse on O and D?
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Old 01-03-2014, 04:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So we conclude that Gay was making us worse on O and D?
100% Absolute yes. He was nothing but a cancer looking to pad his own stats.
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Old 01-03-2014, 05:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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So we conclude that Gay was making us worse on O and D?
His focus and therefore his effort was unreliable throughout a game. I personally think he hurt us more on defense then on offense.
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:05 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Anyone have the on/off numbers for Lowry and our defence? Or just how our defence plays when Vasquez is on? I'm curious to see if his individual D has a significant negative impact on the team's D.
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:07 PM   #16 (permalink)
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The turnovers and bad shots by Rudy certainly didn't help the defense. Nor did his sulking. Demar turned the ball over the other night and ran down the court and fought to get the ball right back. The mental toughness has gone through the roof since Rudy left, and that spells good things defensively. Offense is simply not always going to be clicking. Shots are not always going to fall favorably. But mental toughness brings the wins on the other side of the court.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
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So we conclude that Gay was making us worse on O and D?
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100% Absolute yes. He was nothing but a cancer looking to pad his own stats.
On O, It's pretty much academic that Gay made us significantly worse, since he was shooting a career low 38.8% from the field (!!!), making him one of the most inefficient players in the NBA period, which is doubly bad for such a high volume shooter.

On D the point is a bit more nuanced because Gay can be a good to very good individual defensive player; he's got length and OK lateral quickness and can bring hustle (although sometimes saves much of his energy for the other side of the court). However, our chemistry on both sides of the court is vastly improved after the Gay trade.

I don't think Gay was "nothing but a cancer" at all, but it was just an issue of fit and where he's at in his career and his contract. Right now he's basically playing to earn another big payday, and unfortunately that superseded any sacrifice of his numbers for the team.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I'd love to participate in Gay bashing, but we mustn't underestimate the effect Salmons and Patterson in particular had on our team defence.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:13 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I'd love to participate in Gay bashing, but we mustn't underestimate the effect Salmons and Patterson in particular had on our team defence.
Gay is good defender. Its his blackhole selfishness on Offense that killed the defense. Its all about transition and bad shots selection, missed lay ups, and turnovers turning into points for the other team. When he would miss or turn it over the opponents best player (usually a SF) is down the floor before him so often and its always a mismatch.

Although I do think Salmons/Ross play better D than Gay often, we aren't this much better on D just because we have Patterson filling in for Hansbrough and Salmons/Ross playing for Gay.

We saw it tonight. Small stretch with alot of turnovers or bad shots and Wiz got right back in it in the 2nd half.

And now we are getting stops and rebounds and it allow us to run more than we ever have. One snowballs into another. Gay was just an awful fit for this team.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:15 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I'd love to participate in Gay bashing, but we mustn't underestimate the effect Salmons and Patterson in particular had on our team defence.
Shame on you Mike! They're people too!

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