Identifying correctly what actually lost last night’s game for the Raptors

The Toronto Raptors lost a hard fought game to the visiting Atlanta Hawks last night:

Atlanta Hawks 104
Complete Game Info

but, instead of whining about the discrepancy in fouls called against the Raptors by a fairly veteran crew of officials … i.e. Bill Spooner, Rodney Mott and Haywoode Workman … which is really as good as it gets for a Wednesday night in the NBA with 11 games on the slate, what the Raptors and their rabid fanbase should actually be moaning about today is the poor defensive execution displayed by their own team on the following possession which allowed the Hawks to take the lead for good, on a simple “catch-and-shoot-3PT-shot” by notorious Raptors killer, Mike Bibby, with Atlanta down 2 points and 10.3 secs left in the 4th quarter:  



Q1. Which of the following individuals for the Raptors was at fault for failing to carry out his assignment properly on this specific defensive sequence?

i. Jose Calderon,
ii. Amir Johnson,
iii. DeMar DeRozan,
iv. Andrea Bargnani,
v. Leandro Barbosa,
vi. Jay Triano?

A1. If you’ve been a regular visitor to this blog over the last several years, then, you should already be able to answer this question correctly for yourself.


When a team is currently ranked:

A. 26th in [5th last] Points Allowed [i.e. 105.1], and

B. 30th [last] in Defensive Field Goal % [i.e. 49.2],

that team’s supporters need to understand that the primary reason they lost a very winnable game last night has nothing to do with the poor quality of officiating their team received but the poor quality of defensive execution by specific players and coaches when the outcome of the game was actually on the line.

FWIW, here’s the correct answer to the question posed above:

i. Demar DeRozan … did his job properly.
ii. Amir Johnson … did his job properly.
iii. Andrea Bargnani … failed to do his job properly.
iv. Leandro Barbosa … failed to do his job properly.
v. Jose Calderon … failed to do his job properly.
vi. Jay Triano … failed to do his job properly.  


re: Bargnani [i.e. near screener's defender]
The primary responsibilities of the screen defender – in the double screen action – who is closest to the inbounds passer is to:

- see the 2 cuts happening from the player located above/below the double screen [i.e. Mike Bibby]


- jump out on the near/high side of the double screen to deter and/or intercept/deflect a direct pass to the shooter popping out at the top of the key

re: Barbosa [i.e. inbounds passer's defender]
The primary responsibilities of the inbounds passer’s defender is to:

- ”jam the passer” so that he is not able to complete a direct pass to a teammate cutting to the top of the key with the benefit of a single, double, or staggered set of screens

re: Calderon [i.e. weak side shooter's defender]
The primary responsibilities of the defender who is checking the player located above/below the double screen is to:

- “stay below” and towards the “basket side” of his own check

- “switch” vs any little-on-little cross screen action that ahppens below the double screen

- “chase” the shooter who comes out towards his side of the floor “around” the double screen action at the top of the key … and into the area of screen defender who is nearest the inbounds passer … by “trailing” on the hip of the shooter rather than attempting to fight “through” the middle of the 2 screeners

re: Triano
The primary responsibilities of the head coach whose team is leading by 2 points with only 10.3 secs left in the 4th quarter and the opponent with the ball in a sideline out-of-bounds situation, when coming from a called time-out is, to:

- Ensure that his players fully understand what they MUST DO in order to NOT GIVE UP an open 3PT-shot … either, from the top of the key, or the near wing/corner … which can lose them the game, outright, as opposed to surrendering a 2PT-shot which can only tie the score 

re: Amir Johnson [i.e. far screener's defender]
The primary responsibilities of the screen defender – in the double screen action – who is furthest from the inbounds passer is to:

- stay below the double screen, in order to cover whichever screener might step towards the basket in response to the actions of the near screen defender and the weak side shooter’s defender 

re: DeMar DeRozan [i.e. ball side shooter's defender]
The primary responsibilities of the defender who is checking the shooter located in the ball side low post is to:

- “front” vs this shooter so that he does not receive a direct entry pass

- “switch” vs any little-on-little cross screen action which occurs below the below screen

- “chase” vs any cut made by his individual check which does not involve the use of a single, double or staggered set of screens


Kudos to the Hawks’ Larry Drew, Jamal Crawford, Al Horford, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby for doing each of their jobs properly and executing this basic offensive play! 

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6 Responses to “Identifying correctly what actually lost last night’s game for the Raptors”

  1. Mike D Says:

    Oh Bargs. I guess we have to be happy that he at least went for the box out at the end of the play.

    His defensive IQ/awareness on this sequence is really instructive. Throughout the play, he seems genuinely aware that something is happening, but seems unable to figure out what it is or how he should move to stop it. Paralyzed, I guess you would call it. Frozen.

    Nice box out though.

  2. khandor Says:

    Mike D,

    When I read your comment, the words:

    “Paralyzed, I guess you would call it. Frozen.”

    made me laugh out loud. :-)


    As long as the Raptors have Bargnani playing 30+ minutes per game they will continue to be a very poor team at the defensive end of the floor.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Yeah its the international players who lost us the game, but i guess we should just excuse the fact that the two american players who you claimed did their job also fouled players 3x beyond the arc, which lead to 9 free throws. Or the fact that Amir doesn’t know how to plant his feet on a pick. Or the fact that Demar’s perimeter D was absolute shit and the main reason why Crawford and Johnson went off. Yeah lets blam Barbosa and Andrea, the two people who actually gave us a shot at winning this game and who defended there position effectively throughout the game, not just on one play.

    You’re constant attack on anything that isnt black on this team is really getting old.

  4. khandor Says:


    What I wrote in this blog entry is concerned with the different individuals on the Raptors team who failed to do their job properly on this specific play which resulted in the Hawks taking the lead for good in the 4th quarter of this game.

    The words “international players”, “american players” and “black” do not appear in my blog post.

    So …

    If you happen to have issues with the nationality, or ethnicity, of certain players on the Raptors that’s your business, but please do not make the mistake of thinking that I fit into the same category as you do.

  5. Jeff Says:

    You most certainly do becasue you identify that play, and specifically those players, when the only reason we were leading is because of them. Also the only reason this game even came down to the end was because of Demar. He was consistently the worst defender on the team all night and needed to be masked by Triano who switched to a zone. To suggest this loss was anyone else’s fault only exposes your obvious bias.

  6. khandor Says:


    Prior to this play the Raptors were leading by 2 points.

    After this play the Raptors were trailing by 1 point.

    Beyond this play the Raptors were never able to regain the lead in this game.

    This means that what happened on this specific play was in fact the pivotal sequence/action/play of this particular game … when it comes to determining the winner from the loser.

    When someone attempts to analyze accurately what specific thing may have caused Team A to lose a particular game to Team B, the proper way to do this is to “regress” from the point in that game at which the winning team was actually able to take the lead for the final time.

    Once that single possession is thoroughly dissected only then should an analyst who actually knows what s/he is doing begin to analyze the remaining possessions which occurred in the game going backwards one possession at a time from this pivotal point.

    [PLEASE NOTE: I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who points out that DeRozan was repeatedly abused at the defensive end of floor by the likes of Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, since this was in fact exactly what happened throughout this specific game prior to the pivotal play in question.]