- Tip Off: 7:30 PM PT
- Television: CSN-BA
Toronto Raptors Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 103.2 (tied for 11th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 104.6 (23rd in NBA)
- Points: Rudy Gay, 20.5 PPG
- Rebounds: Amir Johnson, 7.1 RPG
- Assists: Kyle Lowry, 6.0 APG
- Steals: Rudy Gay, 2.4 SPG
- Blocks: Amir Johnson, 1.3 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Amir Johnson, 56% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: John Lucas, 44.1% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Raptors Republic.
Preview: Despite their subpar record, the Toronto Raptors (23-37) are currently in the midst of challenging the Milwaukee Bucks for the eight seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
Mind you, their hunt has taken a substantial hit with their four straight losses entering tonight’s game.
They were defeated at home by an improving Washington Wizards team, and then followed that setback with losses against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks.
They still have an outside shot of surpassing the Bucks but the odds aren’t in there favor.
Nonetheless, few would have predicted the Raptors would be in this spot today a little over a month ago before Bryan Colangelo pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade to acquire Rudy Gay.
Since bringing the UCONN product to Toronto, Dwane Casey and company have split their 14 games.
Warriors World reached out to Sam Holako of Raptors Republic, the Toronto Raptors ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate blog, to get his take on whether the team is in fact better with Gay on board:
The short answer is yes; the long one is also yes, but… Gay is a high volume shooter who can create scoring opportunities for himself, and hit big shots (two game-winners already). If this is the only move that Bryan Colangelo makes, then this team is maybe a treadmill – .500 team at best. If he can pair him with a low-post scorer, and basically recreate what they did in Memphis, things could really start to get interesting.
Gay is unquestionably the talent that the Raps need but it’s worth noting that he’s struggled to convert shots this season in both a Grizzlies and Raptors uniform. He has a tendency to drift to the perimeter and settle for jumpers as opposed to putting pressure on defenses by consistently creating high percentage looks close to the basket.
In the first couple of games, the former Grizzly’s presence was somewhat of a nuisance for DeMar DeRozan because it took the ball away from him in his sweet spots. The Raps’ guard would get stuck with the ball late in the shot clock in long 2-point range where he would invariably be forced to take a difficult shot.
Casey has since made a few adjustments to take advantage of defenses tilting towards his starting small forward. When I pressed Holako on the issue of DeRozan and Gay coexisting on the floor together, he had this to share:
They have been surprisingly playing well with each other. Gay’s presence has opened up some room for DeRozan to operate and he has really responded. The most interesting stat, for me anyways, is that over the last 13 games, DeMar is 5th in the league in trips to the line. This tells me that Gay is drawing defenders out of the paint to the perimeter, giving DeRozan space to make some moves.
The numbers back up the observations both Holako and I have made.
When we look at the time that DeRozan has played with Gay this season and project it over 36 minutes per game, he produces 18.2 points and 7.3 free throw attempts on 40.6 percent field goal shooting according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
Remove the former Huskie from the equation and DeMar’s figures drop to 14.4 points and 6.5 free throw attempts per 36 minutes on 37.1 percent shooting from the field.
The shooting figures leave much to be desired quite frankly, but DeRozan and Gay make up for it with their athletic contributions on defense. Neither player will ever be confused as stoppers. However the tandem’s collective quickness and explosiveness limits the damage of opposing offenses.
Whether it’s sliding into position to take a charge, discouraging a driving angle or simply contesting shots with their long arms and leaping ability, the Toronto twosome is problematic for opponents.
NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that the Raptors’ pair has shared the court together for 389 minutes this season in 13 games (Gay missed a contest in Milwaukee) and surrendered 94 points per 100 possessions. That figure is easily better than the Indiana Pacers’ league leading mark of 95.5 points per 100 possessions.
Obviously, DeRozan and Gay play with other teammates and that influences the defensive output as well. The fact that Andrea Bargnani averaged a mere 20 minutes per game in the month of February may or may not have played a role in Toronto’s stinginess since the acquisition of Rudy Gay.
Having said all of that, DeRozan and Gay are sure bets to generate “oohs” and “ahs” tonight at Oracle Arena with their highflying plays. They might miss a few jumpers here and there, but ultimately they will be productive and should prove to be tough to handle for both Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
The Raptors’ tandem is nowhere near as talented as the duo of Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, but it might just be the best one Raps fans have seen since T-Mac and VC shared the court together as teammates in Toronto during the 1999-00 season.
Raptors game note: After missing the last contest in Milwaukee with back spasms, Rudy Gay is scheduled to play tonight for the Toronto Raptors.
Warriors game note: Andrew Bogut will be a game-time decision for tonight’s contest.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].