Golden State, we might have a problem. After losing six straight games, it’s fairly evident that the Warriors need a pick me up. Forget moral victories, the Dubs need to get a win, and if possible it has to come at home so the fans can all enjoy it together. On Friday night, the Golden State Warriors (30-42) will host the Toronto Raptors (20-51) with the hope that they will be able to get back into the win column. Do not let their record fool you though, the Raptors can play.
On offense, the Raptors score 99.4 points per game (16th in the NBA) on 46.6% field goal shooting (eighth in the league). Toronto puts up points on the board because they are able to get to the basket consistently. According to Hoopdata, the Raptors attempt 28.3 shots right at the basket (second best in the association) and convert them at a 61.2% rate (25th in the NBA).
Jay Triano’s team does an excellent job of moving without the ball to create passing angles where players can find each other for easy catches. As a result, when they run a pick and roll, the players typically move in concert and flash towards the lane to receive a pass with an opportunity to score at the rim. This explains why the Raps average 22.2 assists per game (11th in the league). Consequently, do not be surprised to see players such as DeRozan and Weems get loose behind the defense for exquisite lob passes from Jose Calderon.
Also, this Toronto team loves to push the ball off misses to get out in transition and take advantage of a defense that failed to get back in time. Their team speed, as well as the pace at which they play helps them score 18.7 fast break points per game (tied for first in the NBA with Golden State). Combine the running opportunities with the team’s ability to generate points at the basket and you have a squad that scores 45.1 points in the paint per game (third in the league).
If there is one concern for the Raptors, it’s their inability to shoot the ball effectively from deep. On the season, they are only converting 31.4% of their three point field goal attempts (30th in the NBA) which means teams will pack the paint against them. To their credit though, Toronto does not settle for three point shots, firing away only 13.6 treys per game (29th in the league).
Also worth noting, this Raptors team is one of the worst in the league at finishing at the basket, and this flaw is usually magnified against teams with good strong defensive big men such as Boston, Los Angeles (both teams) and Oklahoma City to name a few. This should not be much of a problem against the Warriors though.
On defense, Toronto surrenders 105.3 points per game (26th in the NBA) on 48.2% field goal shooting (29th in the league). The Raptors suffer from the same plague that the Warriors do: a complete inability to defend the basketball court.
Toronto struggles to keep players in front of them off the bounce and also has trouble with their pick and roll coverage. Complicating matters further, their post defense leaves much to be desired. On the season, the Raptors defense gives up 47.9 points in the paint per game, which is dead last in the NBA.
As bad as that is, the Raptors also allow a scorching 37.3% 3-point shooting (26th in the league) because they do a poor job of closing out on shooters. Needless to say, teams that struggle to defend the interior and the perimeter usually end up having poor win-loss records and that’s exactly the case for the Raptors.
On some nights, their offense can carry them for huge stretches and overshadow their shaky defense, but for the most part their inability to get stops usually dooms them especially late in games.
The Warriors will be able to get a multitude of open shots from deep, but it’s important that they also take advantage of a poor interior defense if they want to have a shot to win the game. Given the Warriors equally awful defense, it’s only fair to assume that the Raptors are going to get several shots up directly at the basket, and Golden State will be hard pressed to match Toronto if they keep firing away from deep while their opponents are getting lay ups.
Toronto game notes: In his last 10 games, DeMar DeRozan is averaging 19.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 49.4% field goal shooting.
Golden State game notes: In his last 10 games, Dorell Wright is averaging 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 48.5% field goal shooting.