Raptors’ inconsistency a cause for concern One telling play in Friday’s loss was a dunk by Boston’s Paul Pierce over Chris Bosh that ended with Pierce being hit with a taunting technical for flexing over the falling Raptor. That brought coach Jay Triano and his staff off the bench to scream at Pierce, but elicited no response from the other players.
“I was pretty focused on what was going on in front of me. I didn’t realize until I watched it on tape that we had backed off as much as we did,” Triano said. “I think if I was Chris I would confront my teammates.
“Any time one of your guys goes down – and you don’t have to go out there and start fighting – just go over and help your teammate and we didn’t even do that. He laid there on the floor without anybody going over to see how he was.”
A Top Notch NBA head coach does NOT talk in this way, concerning what happens to one of HIS players in a game:
“I was pretty focused on what was going on in front of me. I didn’t realize … ”
A Top Notch NBA head coach is aware of EVERY SINGLE THING that happens on the floor, and on the bench, with regard to HIS team.
A Top Notch NBA head coach … misses NOTHING.
Because he is just THAT aware of:
1. What’s happened in the game, to that point;
2. What’s happening in the game, at that exact moment; and,
3. What’s most likely ABOUT to happen in the game, in the immediate future.
This is one of the personal attributes which separates a Top Notch NBA head coach from everyone else.
A Top Notch NBA head coach does NOT talk in this way, either:
the players on HIS own team.
He does NOT use the phrase:
“I think if I was ____ ____, I would ________ __ _________.”
He does NOT talk in public … either to, or about, HIS players … in terms of hypothetical directives.
A Top Notch NBA head coach is, either:
A. Purposely obtuse/indirect; or,
B. Purposely acute/direct;
in his dealings with reporters, scribes, bloggers, etc., concerning goings-on with HIS players, in order to convey a highly specific message that either:
i. Relieves the pressure of a situation from the entire team; or,
ii. Narrows the focus to a certain thing/individual within the entire group.
Of all the goings-on which have occurred in Raptorville, to this point, this season … these specific words spoken by their head coach, Jay Triano, are the most disconcerting.
FACTS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT’S INCIDENT VS BOSTON
1. The first Raptors’ coach to get up from his seat, in response to what was done to Chris Bosh [by Paul Pierce] … was ALEX ENGLISH.
2. The most demonstrative Raptors’ coach who actually went after the Celtics’ bench contingent [i.e. Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau, Rasheed Wallace, etc.], in response to what was done to Chris Bosh [by Paul Pierce] … was MARC IAVARONI.
The Raptors have assembled a team in the image of Bryan Colangelo … and, it’s going to be most interesting, indeed, to see where they’ll go from here.
If the playoffs were slated to begin this evening, the individual series match-ups would be as follows:
ORLANDO/1 vs Toronto/8
ATLANTA/4 vs Miami/5
BOSTON/2 vs Indiana/7
CLEVELAND/3 vs Milwaukee/6
Q1.Are there any astute NBA observers who think that teams 5, 6, 7 or 8 actually have the ability to win their series against the higher seeded opponent, based on what’s transpired thus far this season?
As was said in this space during the off-season, from a Raptors’ perspective …
this year’s playoff race for positions No. 5-8 is going to be a closely contested battle between a whole swack of teams each with the talent required to beat the others on any given night.
Boston, Cleveland and Orlando are almost guarantees.
Atlanta and Miami are solid bets.
The remaing 3 spots will be determined in a year-long battle between:
Milwaukee/6 … with a 1st-yr PG at the helm
Indiana/7 … without Mike Dunleavy [inj.] for the 1st half of the season
Toronto/8 … with the worst defensive rating in the entire league
Chicago/9 … without Tyrus Thomas [inj.] for the 1st half of the season
Charlotte/10 … with their recent add of Stephen Jackson
Detroit/11… with the poor cohesion that stems from PG uncertainty
Philadelphia/12 … without Lou Williams for the next 2 months
Washington/13 … with the fragility of Arenas/Jamison/Butler/Haywood
New York/14 … with their main goal of signing LeBron James next summer
New Jersey/15 … with their new goal of securing the No. 1 [overall] Draft Pick
Approximately 1 month in, things are shaping up pretty much as expected.
The defensive system of an elite level basketball team is based on the execution of Rules and/or Concepts which are created by a team’s coaching staff to cover each situation which might occur during that team’s season; Rules and/or Concepts with which a casual [or, even, a die-hard] fan might not be familiar with already.
During this specific sequence:
Chris Bosh is X5, checking Tyson Chandler [C/O5].
Andrea Bargnani is X4, checking Boris Diaw [PF/O4].
Hedo Turkoglu is X3, checking Gerald Wallace [SF/O3].
DeMar DeRozan is X2, checking Stephen Jackson [OG/O2].
Jose Calderon is X1, checking Raymond Felton [PG/O1].
WHEN O1 MADE THE INITIAL LOW-POST ENTRY PASS TO O2 [RIGHT BLOCK] AND LAKER CUT TO THE WEAK SIDE OF THE FLOOR:
X1 was responsible for denying the Pass-back to O1 [as he cut through the lane to weak side of the floor [which is exactly what X1 did]. Once O1 got to the weak side, X1 was responsible for: i. Being outside of the lane on the weak side [to avoid an Illegal Defense Violation]; and, ii. Releasing Off his individual check [O1] to Zone Up against whichever opponents [i.e. 1, 2 or 2+] were located on the perimeter of the weak side.
X2 was responsible for defending against O2 in a 1-v-1 situation.
X3 was responsible for: i. Being outside of the lane on the weak side of the floor [to avoid an Illegal Defense Violation]; and, ii. Releasing Off his individual check [i.e. O3] to Zone Up against whichever opponents [i.e. 1, 2 or 2+] were located on the perimeter of the weak side.
X4 was responsible for: i. Being outside of the lane above the Free Throw Line [to avoid an Illegal Defense Violation]; and, ii. Releasing Off his individual check [i.e. O4] to Zone Up against whichever opponents [i.e. 1, 2 or 2+] were located on the perimeter above the Free Throw Line Extended [either on the weak or the strong side of the floor].
X5 was responsible for defending against O5 [located at the ball side elbow] in a 1-v-1 situation.
SPECIFIC RULES FOR O2 vs X2 POST-UP SITUATIONS vs MAN-2-MAN D
Since X2 is a frail 1st year player [20 yrs of age] who cannot defend successfully vs O2′s post-ups … based on a lack of guile and physical strength … X4 was responsible for Covering Down on the ball-handler to get the ball out of O2′s hands [in an effort to avoid the 1-v-1 isolation vs X2]. In general, there are three different techniques which a team can use to execute this specific Cover Down with X4, after the Post Entry Pass has already been made: I. Immediately, On The Initial Catch; II. Delayed, On The 1st Dribble; and, III. Late, on the 2+ Dribble. In this instance, the Raptors chose not to Cover Down Immediately, but to execute either Option II or III … which one exactly is unclear, given the physical movement of X4. All that’s known for certain is that X4 did not execute Option I.
AS X4 PREPARED TO INITIATE HIS COVER DOWN [either Option II or III vs O2]
X3 was responsible for Stepping-up Above The Free Throw Line Extended in order to maintain a Zoned Up position vs O4 [who moved above the Three Point Line] on the weak side of the floor [i.e. in order to avoid an Illegal Defense Violation].
X1 was responsible for maintaining a Zoned Up position vs O1 [weak side FTLX] and O3 [weak side Corner].
X5 was responsble for: i. Denying an interior pass to O5 [who had cut to the weak side Block]; ii. Being within a step of O5 on the weak side of the floor [in order to avoid an Illegal Defense Violation], iii. Providing Help against a baseline drive by O2.
THE PASS FROM O2 TO O3 HAPPENED WHEN:
1. X4 shifted to the Left Elbow and waited for O2 to take his 1st dribble … which never came … in order to initiate Option I or II in his Cover Down vs O2.
2. X3 failed to communicate with X1 and X5 that he [i.e. X3] was Stepping-Up to defend the area of the floor above the Free Throw Line [i.e. where O4 was positioned] in unison with X4′s Cover Down; and,
3. X1 and X5 failed to: i. Recognize that X3 was Stepping-Up to defend that specific area of the floor and was no longer responsible for being Zoned Up on the weak side of the floor [i.e. vs O3 and O1]; and, then, ii. React quickly to the baseline basket cut which was beautifully executed by O3.
SPECIFIC RULES FOR O2 vs X2 POST-UP SITUATIONS vs ZONE D
If the Raptors had shifted into their Zone Defense vs O2′s post-up, then their players would have been located in the following positions [in a 2-3 Zone]:
X2 – Left Baseline Defender … checking O2, in a 1-v-1 situation
X4 – Left Top Defender … at the Left Defensive Elbow
X1 – Right Top Defender … at the Right Elbow
X3 - Right Baseline Defender … at the Right Block
X5 – Middle Defender … at the Left Block
Since, X1 [i.e. Jose Calderon] did NOT step-up to the Right Elbow position and, instead, X3 Stepped-up to defend against X4, this indicates that the Raptors had not shifted into their Zone Defensive alignment during this sequence but were responsible for moving and reacting to O2′s post-up within the parameters of their Specific Man-2-Man Cover Down Rules.
PS. Follow-up queries are welcome in the comments section.
In the off season … and, despite what you were told by a variety of other observers, to the contrary … this corner indicated that there had NOT really been that much improvement from a player personnel and coaching standpoint with the 2009-2010 version of the Toronto Raptors, in spite of the radical roster make-over, compared with the other 29 teams in the NBA and, specifically, their competitors in the Eastern Conference.
Legend: * – Erred by using S-O’Neal and Z-Ilgauskas together; ^ – In the process of firing their head coach; Lighter Shade – High Quality; Darker Shade – Low Quality.
what you should be able to see is that:
1. The Raptors are STILL losing games to the better [>.500] teams in the NBA;
2. The Raptors are STILL winning games against the poorer [<.500] teams in the NBA;
3. The Raptors are STILL a fairly good Home team;
4. The Raptors are STILL a fairly poor Away team;
5. The Raptors are STILL losing Away games against opponents that are good defensive and rebounding teams;
6. The Raptors are STILL winning an occasional Home game against a quality opponent [>.500];
7. The Raptors are STILL losing a high percentage of their Away games against a quality opponent [>.500].
Until the focus of the Raptors’ Management Team shifts away from:
“Playing an entertaining, high-scoring brand of fast-paced basketball which is capable of being ‘competitive’ on a game-to-game basis, winning a fair share of regular season games but without being able to advance very far in the playoffs due to a lack of defense and rebounding,”
“Playing a brand of basketball which is well-balanced … i.e. evenly distributed between Offense, Defense and Rebounding … and thoroughly committed to competing for and eventually winning a League Championship, through the acquisition of the required number of High End players, and coaches, and scouts, and support staff, etc., it takes to accomplish THIS SPECIFIC GOAL, as a bottom line objective,”
there is little REAL reason to believe that the Raptors are anything more than a perennial Treadmill Team with the primary intention of making a bottom-line profit for its ownership group.
“Window dressing” does not take you to the upper echelon of the NBA.
Only an emphasis on Team Defense, Rebounding, Shared Team Offense AND a COMMITMENT TO WINNING IT ALL can accomplish THAT specific objective.
What you see below are two video clips which The Arsenalist has done a good job parsing out from last night’s Raptors’ W vs the Pacers, while asking for “the answer” to 2 specific questions, based on this footage:
Q1. Why did Belinelli leave Rush open?
Q2. Why did Bargnani feel the need to help [leaving Granger open]?
These are perfectly good “technical” questions which deserve to be answered properly [and thoroughly] by an actual basketball expert.
In this sequence:
Jarrett Jack is X1, checking Earl Watson/PG [i.e. O1].
Marco Belinelli is X2, checking Brandon Rush/OG [i.e. O2].
Hedo Turkoglu is X3, checking Danny Granger/SF [i.e. O3].
Andrea Bargnani is X4, checking Tyler Hansbrough/PF [i.e. O4].
Amir Johnson is X5, checking Jeff Foster/C [i.e. O5].
When O1 is passed the ball in the Right Wing position, X2 is the defender with the responsibility of checking the opposition player who is now occupying the “lowest” spot [i.e. closest to the baseline] on the weak side of the floor [i.e. O2].
X2′s responsibility is to be in a Help position vs any baseline drive by O1.
X3′s responsibility is to be in a Help-the-helper position vs any baseline drive by O1.
When O1 drives by X1, toward the Right Baseline, X2 must provide Help. It is then X3′s responsiblity to Drop/Sink Down toward the Left Baseline, in order to provide Help for the Helper [i.e. X2].
When O1 then makes a pass to O2, in the Left Corner, it is X3′s responsibility to, either:
A. Intercept/deflect this pass; or, B. Close-out vs O2.
In this instance, however … Hedo Turkoglu provides NEITHER of these two required responses.
This was a defensive miscue by X3, Hedo Turkoglu.
* The ONLY exception would be, if the Raptors’ actual game-plan called for whichever defender was assigned to Granger to NOT rotate off of him in all dribble penetration scenarios.
Instead of X3 [i.e Turkoglu] initiating a Secondary Rotation vs O2 [i.e. Rush], X5, Amir Johnson [who was checking an offensive player located above the FT Line, i.e. Jeff Foster], was forced to make a late attempt at a close-out vs X3′s assigned check, in a fruitless attempt to stop this wide open Corner 3-PT shot.
In this sequence:
Jarrett Jack is X1, checking T.J. Ford/PG [i.e. O1].
Marco Belinelli is X3, checking Danny Granger/SF [i.e. O3].
Hedo Turkoglu is X2, checking Brandon Rush/OG [i.e. O2].
Andrea Bargnani is X4, checking Troy Murphy/PF [i.e. O4].
Amir Johnson is X5, checking Solomon Jones/C [i.e. O5].
When O3 [i.e. the Dribbler] and O4 [i.e. the Picker] executed a High Left Wing Pick, X4 and X3 had the responsibility of Switching … which they did effectively.
X1′s responsibility was to then be in position to provide [weak side] Help on any Middle Drive by O3.
X5′s responsibility was to defend 1-on-1 vs O5′s cut to the weak side Low-post position.
X2′s responsibility was to Sink to the Middle, coming off of O2 slightly, in order to deter/contest/defend against an interior pass to O4 [i.e. if he rolled to the basket].
X3′s responsibility was to engage O4 and neutralize his attempt to get open following the Pick Action [i.e. either rolling to the basket or popping out to the perimeter].
X4′s responsibility was to defend against O3 [i.e. the Dribbler].
When O3 then Drove Middle, into the lane, it was due to the “poor lateral defensive footwork” of X4 [i.e. Bargnani].
What X4 did effectively, however, was position himself in a way to be able to contest a running jump-shot from O3, if this player would have attempted to execute this specific type of low percentage shot on his drive into the lane.
Instead of doing this, though, O3 … when confronted with the weak side Help from X1 … made a Kick-out Pass to O1.
At this point, two Defensive Rotation Options were in play:
A. X5 needed to Rotate Out to defend against O1 [i.e. with X4, either: i. rotating directly to defend vs O5; or, ii. rotating to O2, if X2 had been able to rotate to defend against O5]; or,
B. X1 needed to Recover [quickly] AND Close-out against O1, with X4 maintaining/re-establishing his defensive position relative to O3.
OPTION B is what actually happened.
To this point, the Raptors were able to cover-up for Bargnani’s initial miscue.
When O1 then Drove Middle, getting into the lane, X1 did a poor job keeping the ball on the perimeter of the defense BUT a good job of at least maintaining his defensive position between the ball-handler and the basket, which enabled X3, X2 and X5 to all Stay Home on their individual check … although X5 did provide some Secondary Basket Protection by Stepping Up towards the front rim in support of X1.
The defensive miscue which occured next … i.e. X4′s decision to release his individual check to “Trap In/Out” vs O1 … was due to a lack of discipline/concentration by Bargnani.
Considering that Turkoglu first refused to LEAVE Granger … for whatever reason … in the 1st clip, and then Bargnani refused to STAY WITH Granger … for whatever reason … in the 2nd clip, it’s a sound observation to assert that at least one of these two players failed to do his assigned job properly, in these specific sequences, and that perhaps BOTH of them DO NOT have the discipline/concentration required to be a consistent defensive player for the Raptors, at this point.
Anyone else who would like to have “an answer” provided to a technical basketball-related question, please feel free to create a youtube video clip, in some format, and forward it to this blog.
What you will get back, in return, is an accurate reply.
What yours truly will think of from now on when the image of Ron-Ron “in his [Boxer's] shorts” on The Jimmy Kimmel Show comes to mind:
I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest …
“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”
- Lao Tzu
Portland 122, Chicago 98: Everything falls into place for Blazers For a night, at least, order was restored within the Trail Blazers. Brandon Roy was back at shooting guard and controlling the pace and precision of the offense. Andre Miller, steadfastly saying he is accepting the reins of the second unit, played perhaps as hard and determined as he has all season. And the inside combination of Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge was dominant like never before.
The Blazers didn’t just beat Chicago on Monday, they overpowered them — dunking over, cutting through and stepping all over the Bulls during a 122-98 victory in front of 20,383 at the Rose Garden, its 79th consecutive sellout.
“A number of things are just starting to come together,” said Roy, who had 18 points and seven assists despite sitting the final eight minutes. “I think guys are back in their natural positions and we sensed that we have to get this going, too.”
Oden tied his career high with 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds, and Aldridge recorded his fifth double double of the season, finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds. While the Blazers’ big men helped create a 50-32 advantage in points in the paint, the perimeter duo of Roy and Miller (16 points, five assists) not only flourished in separate units, they also thrived when they played together.
Building a championship calibre organization in the NBA is about making small steps forward each and every day … not swinging for the fences.
When it comes to commenting on the goings-on with the Toronto Raptors there are many individuals operating in the blogosphere today who do a good job, from the perspective of a basketball fan, including the likes of:
etc., etc., etc.
Part of the problem which exists, in Raptorville, is a general lack of “technical understanding and experience” when it comes to the subtle nuances involved with proper execution in the NBA game.
Exhibit A – Properly Understanding NBA Defense vs Pick and Roll/Pop Scenarios
[unlike what is stated incorrectly in the video clip above ... ]
What you see when you click on the different links below, and watch the included video clip, are a few examples of the proper ways to view, “How Teams In The NBA Attempt To Defend Against The Pick And Roll/Pop With Varying Degrees Of Success“:
PS. The Raptors’ main problems yesterday against the Magic’s “3-5 Pick and Roll” were related to the lack of a “Secondary Rotation” AFTER the initial Switch was executed properly by Turkoglu and Bosh, like most good teams do when coming down the stretch of tight NBA games in the 4th quarter.
PPS. At one time, Del Harris had an excellent article available on-line, in a pdf file, which detailed the basic mechanics of proper “Pick and Roll Defense in the NBA” and contained accurate information concerning the application of “Secondary Rotations When Using Switch Techniques”. Unfortunately, it no longer seems to be available. Should it ever re-surface, however, do yourself a favour and download it. It will help you to understand what it is the Raptors SHOULD be trying to do when they intitiate a “Switch” technique vs Pick and Rolls.