Raptors’ improved defense an illusion?

Since the new calendar year began, the Toronto Raptors have a 10-6/.625 W-L record and have moved into 5th place in the Eastern Conference Standings with an overall record of 26-23/.531.

In comparison with how the team began the season …

i.e. 7-13/.400, in Phase 1, through their first 20 games

… this recent stretch of improved winning has many of the team’s supporters excited about what might actually lie ahead in the 2nd half of the schedule and, possibly, in the post-season.

Closer inspection of the team’s performance in these 16 games, however, reveals that there is still a long way to go before the Raptors have any realistic hope of becoming a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

———————————————-

LAST 16 GAMES

G

Date

Opponent

Boxscore

W/L

Record

A+Record

H+Record

01

Sat

Jan

02       

@ BOS

96-103

L

0-1

0-1

 

02

Sun

Jan

03

V Sas

91-86

W

1-1

 

1-0

03

Wed

Jan

06

@ ORL

108-103

W

2-1

1-1

 

04

Fri

Jan

08

@ PHI

108-106

W

3-1

 

 

05

Sun

Jan

10

V Bos

107-114

L

3-2

 

1-1

06

Mon

Jan

11

@ IND

101-105

L

3-3

 

 

07

Fri

Jan

15

@ NYK

112-104

W

4-3

 

 

08

Sun

Jan

17

V Dal

110-88

W

5-3

 

2-1

09

Tue

Jan

19

@ CLE

100-108

L

5-4

1-2

 

10

Wed

Jan

20

@ MIL

107-113

L

5-5

 

 

11

Fri

Jan

22

V Mil

101-96

W

6-5

 

 

12

Sun

Jan

24

V Lak

106-105

W

7-5

 

3-1

13

Wed

Jan

27

V Mia

111-103

W

8-5

 

 

14

Thu

Jan

28

@ NYK

106-104

W

9-5

 

 

15

Sun

Jan

31

V Ind

117-102

W

10-5

 

 

16

Tue

Feb

02

@ IND

115-130

L

10-6

 

 

PYTHAGOREAN WINS ESTIMATE FOR LAST 16 GAMES

Games * [[Points Scored14]/[[Points Scored14]+[Points Allowed14]]]                     

= Wins

16 * [[169614]/[[169614]+[167014]]]

= 8.8608

 

POINTS SCORED               

#

Team

Season 

Last 16

 Last 16

 Season
Rank

1

 Toronto

104.4 

106.0

1

2

 Atlanta

102.2 

 

 

3

 Cleveland

101.1 

 

 

4

 Orlando

100.8 

 

 

5

 New York

100.8 

 

 

6

 Indiana

99.3 

 

 

7

 Boston

99.1 

 

 

8

 Milwaukee

98.2 

 

 

9

 Washington

98.0 

 

 

10

 Philadelphia

97.2 

 

 

11

 Miami

96.8 

 

 

12

 Chicago

95.3 

 

 

13

 Charlotte

95.0 

 

 

14

 Detroit

91.6 

 

 

15

 New Jersey

89.8 

 

 

 

POINTS ALLOWED             

#

Team

Season 

Last 16

Last 16

Season

Rank

1

 Boston

93.7 

 

 

2

 Cleveland

93.8 

 

 

3

 Charlotte

93.9 

 

 

4

 Orlando

95.5 

 

 

5

 Miami

96.4 

 

 

6

 Detroit

96.7 

 

 

7

 Atlanta

97.5 

 

 

8

 Chicago

97.8 

 

 

9

 Milwaukee

98.5 

 

 

10

 Philadelphia

100.0 

 

 

11

 New Jersey

101.6 

 

 

12

 Washington

102.0 

 

 

13

 New York

103.3 

 

 

14

 Indiana

104.6 

 

 

15

 Toronto

105.3 

104.4

14

 

POINTS DIFFERENTIAL       

#

Team

Season 

Last 16

Last 16

Season
Rank

1

 Cleveland

+7.3 

 

 

2

 Boston

+5.4 

 

 

3

 Orlando

+5.3 

 

 

4

 Atlanta

+4.7 

 

 

5

 Charlotte

+1.1 

 

 

6

 Miami

+0.4 

 

 

7

 Milwaukee

-0.3 

 

 

8

 Toronto

-0.9 

+1.6

5

9

 Chicago

-2.5 

 

 

10

 New York

-2.5 

 

 

11

 Philadelphia

-2.8 

 

 

12

 Washington

-4.0 

 

 

13

 Detroit

-5.1 

 

 

14

 Indiana

-5.3 

 

 

15

 New Jersey

-11.8 

 

 

———————————-

What you should be able to see from looking at these tables is that:

* It’s been the Raptors’ offensive production which has actually improved during this stretch of 16 games, not their defensive performance, relative to the other 14 teams in the Eastern Conference

* Their W-L record during this specific stretch was, in all likelihood, effected “positively” by “fortunate circumstances” which occurred within particular games and resulted in 1-2 additional victories over and above the statistical norms consistent with overall “Points Production and Wins”, in the NBA

* Although the team is no longer playing defense in a way which can properly be described as ”historically abysmal” it is still a long way off from reaching a satisfactory level of performance in this fundamental aspect of the game. 

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17 Responses to “Raptors’ improved defense an illusion?”

  1. Morning Coffee – Feb 4 | Slam Dunking Says:

    [...] khandor’s sports blog » Raptors’ improved defense an illusion? this recent stretch of improved winning has many of the team’s supporters excited about what might actually lie ahead in the 2nd half of the schedule and, possibly, in the post-season. [...]

  2. Brasky Says:

    Are these pace adjusted numbers?

    Also, you have to be impressed by their recent ability to close out tight games. 2 years ago under Mitchell they had a very impressive points differential with an expected win total of nearly 50 games but just couldn’t get it done in tight game scenarios. They couldn’t get the wins and got handed a low seed in the process.

    I’ll gladly take an overachiever with this fatally flawed team, because with their roster they should be a .500 team. We’ll see if BC recognizes this and makes the deadline deal he’s been hinting at.

  3. malefax Says:

    Interesting numbers. I’m curious whether you will ever point out something the Raptors are doing BETTER than people think. I always know what your posts are about before I read them.

  4. brothersteve Says:

    In the last 10 games Raptors score 108.1 give up 104.8 for a diff of +3.3, previous 10 it was 102.6 > 98.3 for a diff of +4.3. Both good, but different.

    So the defense we thought was developing has turned into offense, mostly with the return of Jose to the line-up!!

    But the Raps are still playing well. The “stronger defense” is partially an illusion of the really strong 10 game stretch from a little while ago.

  5. brothersteve Says:

    Raps still need a big add to their line-up to join the elite.

  6. khandor Says:

    Brasky,

    ——————————
    re: Are these pace adjusted numbers?
    ——————————

    No, these numbers have not been adjusted for “pace”.

    ——————————
    re: Also, you have to be impressed by their recent ability to close out tight games. 2 years ago under Mitchell they had a very impressive points differential with an expected win total of nearly 50 games but just couldn’t get it done in tight game scenarios. They couldn’t get the wins and got handed a low seed in the process.
    ——————————

    The 2007-2008 team suffered from continuous 4th quarter meltdowns with a highly erratic TJ Ford responsible for steering the ship way too many times as it was preparing to dock.

    A PG who repeatedly calls his own number, coming down the stretch, is eventually going to run his team’s boat aground.

    ——————————
    re: I’ll gladly take an overachiever with this fatally flawed team, because with their roster they should be a .500 team. We’ll see if BC recognizes this and makes the deadline deal he’s been hinting at.
    ——————————

    IMO, making yet another personnel move heading toward the trade dealine is NOT what the Raptors should be doing this year.

    Stability and time to grow together is a fundamental component in the development of a solid NBA organization … and Bryan Colangelo consistently undermines the long term prospects for his own team through his lack of patience and underlying preference for “offense” vs “defense-and-rebounding”.

    No, the Raptors are not as talented as the truly elite teams in the EC, but there is more than enough “NBA Level Talent” on this squad to be a solid playoff team, if that talent is actually used to best advantage, by the GM and the coach … just the same way it’s been for much of the last decade.

    The main problems which the Raptors have faced during their 15 year history have NOT been rooted in a lack of resources to get the job done properly, but THE WAY those resources have actually been used, and abused, by the people responsible for the operation of the team on a daily basis [i.e. 1. The ownership group; 2. The General Manager; 3. The Head Coach and his Support Staff].

  7. Tinman Says:

    Khandor,

    Right on cue, after a loss.

    Haven’t heard much from you lately during this little run of ours.

    Now if you can’t sat something nice…….

  8. khandor Says:

    malefax,

    ——————————————————–
    re: Interesting numbers. I’m curious whether you will ever point out something the Raptors are doing BETTER than people think. I always know what your posts are about before I read them.
    ——————————————————–

    Although you might:

    a. Not be aware of the facts; or,

    b. Simple choose to ignore the facts completely;

    there have been plenty of entries in this space over the last two years extolling diferent elements of the Raptors’ play which have been succeeding in a way that not many of the team’s fans seemed to recognize at all, at the time … like, for example:

    - the fine work of Jose Calderon … when he was only a back-up PG

    - the fine work of Jamario Moon … when others thought that he shot too much

    - the fine work of Kris Humphries … when others thought that he shot too much

    - the fine work of Anthony Parker … when the team was searching for a back-up PG last season

    - the fine work of Pops Mensa-Bonsu last year … when he was paired with Chris Bosh

    - the fine work of Joey Graham when he was used properly as a SF

    - the fine work of Rasho Nesterovic, in general

    - etc.

    In fact, what is always of interest to me is just how wrong others are when they try to make claims about me, and what it is that I do with this little corner of the blogosphere. :-)

  9. khandor Says:

    brothersteve,

    1. Although others choose to disregard a very simple game stat like “Average Points Allowed“, for a whole variety of different reasons, I do not … when it comes to assessing which teams in the league actually have a legitimate shot to advance deep into the playoffs:

    AVE POINTS ALLOWED

    01. Cleveland Cavaliers 93.8
    02. Boston Celtics 93.8
    03. Charlotte Bobcats 94.0
    04. Portland Trail Blazers 95.3
    05. Orlando Magic 95.5
    06. Oklahoma City Thunder 95.8
    07. San Antonio Spurs 96.5
    08. Los Angeles Lakers 96.6
    09. Miami Heat 96.6
    10. Detroit Pistons 96.7 [1 outlier]
    11. Utah Jazz 97.3
    12. Atlanta Hawks 97.5
    13. Chicago Bulls 97.9
    14. Dallas Mavericks 98.3
    15. Milwaukee Bucks 98.5

    When the game slows down, and each possession becomes even more vital than the one before, and the travel is less onerous, and the scouting/game-planning becomes even more intense, etc., it’s the teams that can actually stop their opponent from scoring which have the best opportunity to succeed, as opposed to those who can score the rock, seemingly at will, in the regular season.

    Controlling and adjusting the tempo of play within a specific game is an important element of being able to compete for a championship … and, it’s the teams which can succeed at, either, a slow or a fast game that have the biggest advantage over their opponents.

    2. IMO, the Raptors do not need another Big Man, at this time.

  10. khandor Says:

    Tinman,

    ——————————————————–
    re:
    Khandor,

    Right on cue, after a loss.

    Haven’t heard much from you lately during this little run of ours.

    Now if you can’t sat something nice…….
    ——————————————————–

    Is something which I’ve said in this entry considered by you to be “not nice”?

    If so, then, please point it out. I am always willing to learn from others.

    If not, then …

    ————-

    PS. When I get a chance to post a new entry is … just that … when I get a chance to post a new entry. Keep On Truck’n, one and all. :-) Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff.

  11. rob Says:

    not much candour from khandor….u r , ill say it again, anti rapti. period. mr negative. …… the team is riding a wave…. they r improving. 9 new players, cohesiveness, committment to one anther… here is the concept…ready: its called a TEAM. its not about a signature on a contract, its about wanting to play hard for each other….. anyway, ill check on u in a month. your tone is whats not nice. your ton, anti rapti

  12. Tinman Says:

    ” Their W-L record during this specific stretch was, in all likelihood, effected “positively” by “fortunate circumstances” which occurred within particular games and resulted in 1-2 additional victories over and above the statistical norms consistent with overall “Points Production and Wins”, in the NBA”

    Does that mean the 7-13 start was affected by “unfortunate circumstances” which resulted in 1-2 additional losses?

  13. stu Says:

    Interesting, but I dont think you have done the correct analysis. You should be separating the first 33 games and the last 16 games. Looking at the full season means that you are looking at the same thing twice. Looking at the first 33 games and then at the last 16 games may tell a different story.

  14. khandor Says:

    Tinman,

    An accurate answer to that question would run along the following lines:

    From a “Points Production and Wins” perspective, which is what the “Pythagorean Wins Estimate For Basketball” is all about, you would first need to do some math, in order to ascertain the correct answer to that specific question.

    IMO, however, the straight-forward answer is, “Yes,” that is what that means.

    As I said in the off season:

    - it sure looked like there was going to be a swack of teams in the middle tier of the EC this year fighting for the No. 5-8 playoff spots, and the Raptors were probably going to be one of them

    - those predicting > 48 wins as well as those predicting < 35 wins were mis-reading the signposts along the way

    - this year’s team looks like it will finish somewhere around the .500 mark

    - offense is again their strength; and, defense [and to a lesser extent rebounding] still remains their weakness

    - the 2009-2010 season is going to be about being able to re-sign Chris Bosh, this coming summer, or not

    - etc., etc., etc.

  15. khandor Says:

    rob,

    It doesn’t seem as though you consider “candor” to mean something other than “hearing what you might want to hear” about the current state of the Raptors.

    If/when the Raptors play the game at a high level, in relation to their opposition, then, that will give me a specific reason to sing their praises.

    It’s not “negative” to say that the Raptors have been winning more games recently because their offense has improved, relative to the other teams in the East, rather than their defense.

    All that is, is stating a simple fact.

  16. khandor Says:

    stu,

    1. Welcome aboard. :-)

    2. Separating Games 1-33 [Phase One] from Games 34-49 [Phase Two], from the Raptors’ perspective, in isolation, would be the equivalent of comparing Toronto’s defensive performance in Phase One to Toronto’s defensive performance in Phase Two … which is something that has little relative value, IMO, in and of itself.

    Q1. Have the Raptors gotten better defensively compared to how they performed at that end of the floor earlier in the season?

    A1. Yes, they have … primarily because they were “atrocious” then and are now merely “bad”.

    Q2. Have the Raptors gotten better defensively in comparison with how the other high end teams across the league are performing this season at this phase of the game?

    A2. Not by a substantial margin, to this point.

    Only when the proper answer to Q2. has become an emphatic,

    “yes, they have, and they are now one of the better defensive teams in the NBA,”

    will Toronto take a significant step up the ladder in the East … like Miami did 4 years ago, and Boston did in 2007-2008, and both Orlando and Atlanta did last season.

    Actually being able to win games that are played in the 80-to-95 point range is a major part of what separates the wheat from the chaffe in the NBA.

  17. Morning Coffee – Feb 5 | Slam Dunking Says:

    [...] khandor’s sports blog » Raptors’ improved defense an illusion? this recent stretch of improved winning has many of the team’s supporters excited about what might actually lie ahead in the 2nd half of the schedule and, possibly, in the post-season. [...]

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