Raptors’ line-up that would have likely stopped the Nuggets’ late comeback

If you take a look at these 2 sets of video highlights from Friday night’s Toronto loss against Denver, what you should be able to see is that:

1. The Raptors used a specific 5-Man Unit for the defensive possession when Chauncey Billups made his step-back 3PT shot, in the Left Corner, to tie the score, 95-95, with 33.9 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter:

Jack [6-3, 200] vs Billups [6-3, 202], PG
DeRozan [6-7, 220] vs Carter [6-2, 195], PG
Weems [6-6, 205] vs Smith [6-6, 220], OG
Wright [6-7, 215] vs Anthony [6-8, 230], PF
Bosh [6-10, 245] vs Nene [6-11, 250], C


2. The Raptors used the same 5-Man Unit when Carmelo Anthony missed his initial attempt at a game-winning jump shot … which came after Denver’s final time-out, trailing by 1 point … and was followed by the Nuggets’ offensive rebound, pass back to Anthony and his 2PT dagger that ultimately killed the home team:

Jack vs Carter [inbounds passer; 2nd screener for Smith]
DeRozan vs Smith [shooter cutting below the strong side staggered screens]
Weems vs Billups [receiver/passer positioned at the top of the key]
Wright vs Anthony [shooter isolated at the right elbow]
Bosh vs Nene [1st screener for Smith].



What specific line-up SHOULD the Raptors have used instead of this one?


Weems [6-6, 205] vs Billups [6-3, 202]
DeRozan [6-7, 220] vs Carter [6-2, 195]
Wright [6-7, 215] vs Smith [6-6, 220]
Johnson [6-9, 210] vs Anthony [6-8, 230]
Bosh [6-10, 245] vs Nene [6-11, 250]

If the Raptors had played these last 2 defensive possessions with this different 5-Man Unit, in all likelihood:

Possession #1

Billups would not have been able to get his step-back 3PT jump shot off vs an equally quick but taller defender like Sonny Weems [shot No. 1]; 


Possession #2

Carmelo Anthony would not have been able to get his stand-still 2PT jump shot off vs an equally quick but taller defender like Amir Johnson [i.e. shot No. 2]; and, if he was, then, Toronto would have been in much better position to retrieve the defensive rebound and prevent Anthony from getting off his 1 dribble going left 2PT jump shot … against a smaller defender like Jarrett Jack, or Antoine Wright [shot No. 3].

It really is astounding just how many times different NBA teams actually have the wrong individual match-ups on the floor during specific crunch-time possessions, and how often it can end up costing them a victory, in the process.

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7 Responses to “Raptors’ line-up that would have likely stopped the Nuggets’ late comeback”

  1. Mauro Says:

    I do agree 100 %!

  2. Liston Says:

    I *think* I agree. I’ve been back and forth – leaning towards what you’ve proposed. The main concern would be Amir’s propensity to bite on a pump fake or some other bad foul. And Carmelo usually gets his all-star calls even if its a touch foul. I think I would still make that gamble, though its not as obvious in my mind.

  3. DvS Says:

    Thats true, but they should never have lost their 10 point lead to be in that position.

  4. Peter Says:

    I don’t think its as simple as this.

    Johnson would have been a good choice in the situation, as has rebounding and ability to guard multiple positions is exactly what we needed.

    However, he’s also foul prone, and melo is one of the best in the league at drawing fouls. In a scramble, odds are in favour of melo drawing a foul.

    Would you prefer melo be forced to make a 15 foot jumper, or need to make 2 free throws? I’m not sure which one I prefer, to be honest, given melo’s an 80% FT shooter, but just missed 2.

  5. khandor Says:

    [Tom] Liston,

    If Amir was capable of shutting Melo down completely [Option 1], then, that would have been terrific.

    However, even if Amir had failed, in that regard, and fouled him instead, as Option 2, it would still have been a better alternative than having Wright [or Jack, or Weems, or DeRozan, in rotation] attempt to check Anthony [at his size] successfully in a 1-v-1 situation …

    i.e. vs Johnson, who commits a foul

    A. If Melo hits both FT’s … Raptors are then down by 1 point with the clock stopped and time left to run a set play themselves, following a called time-out;

    B. If Melo hits 1 FT … Raptors are tied with the clock stopped and time left to run a set play themselves, following a called time-out; or,

    C. If Melo misses 2 FT’s … Raptors win!!!

  6. khandor Says:


    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. Agreed.

    3. When determining specifically how a game is lost, however, it’s important to work backwards … i.e. by starting from the point at which the eventual winner took the lead for the final time, or held off the final attempted run by its opponent, and then move progressively further back in time.

  7. khandor Says:


    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. Please see my reply to [Tom] Liston’s comment.

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