The key is consistency.
“Every time they have played here,” says one, “it has been a complete mismatch. They don’t have a plan and they can’t find anything that works.”
Even the worst teams find their game plan. In Toronto’s three losses, and particularly those three losses to the Wizards, the Raptors tried to run and shoot the ball. “The only consistent way to get anything accomplished is to attack, to try and attack every single time,” says DeRozan.
The Wizards tried to do the exact opposite. Their offensive gameplan is all about being in transition and forcing teams to make shots at the rim. The result: Washington’s offensive rating is just 102.3 points per 100 possessions, well below the league average of 107.0.
To help the Raptors learn the basics, the Wizards have played a series of basic pick-and-rolls from the half court. The Raptors, on the other hand, have played just 13 pick-and-rolls. While that might not sound like a lot – most of the time they have just two players on the court, with the ball or passes in the general vicinity in the middle – the difference between 16 and 15 looks like 20.
The difference, says Lipscomb, is they must attack the rim while not allowing opponents to get anything to the rim. As much as we like to say the Raptors were good on the defensive end (though perhaps somewhat better against a team like Oklahoma City), they were not good on offense.
“What you have to do is take them out of a rhythm, take them out of a way they’re accustomed to and keep them on a path,” he says. “If you want to be successful on the road – and even a lot of this is going to be a difficult road for us tonight, and I’ll be disappointed – but you have to keep them off of a path they’re used to, keep them from being used to a rhythm. I don’t think we can do that every time.”
It’s clear, the Raptors hope, that the Wizards will be no different in the second half of Wednesday’s game. One reason, says one scout, is that Washington is still going to be better on offense than they were on defense at the start of the game. “We’re gonna come out and we’re gonna have a very effective offense,” one Eastern Conference Executive, “and a very effective defense.” And if you’re looking for a
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