Offence is fun, bad defence continues to be too costly
As we mentioned, here’s the game story from a game that ended far too late for our deadlines.
OAKLAND – It’s all well and good to run up and down the floor and make some shots and get some layups and put on a show that stays true to basketball’s more entertaining form.
It’s also no way to win with any regularity unless you’re a very, very, very special team and the Raptors are far from special. As much fun as it is to see them piling up the points, it’s also leading to more defeats.
High scoring defeats. But defeats nonetheless.
“We want to push tempo but that’s the hard thing about playing up-tempo basketball, there’s another end of the floor,” coach Dwane Casey said after Toronto dropped a 125-118 decision to the Golden State Warriors here Monday night.
“And any time you let a team shoot 53 per cent (it was actually 57.3 but you get the point) you’re not going to win too many games.”
The Warriors are a highly-entertaining, high-octane bunch that tries to goad opponents into shootouts. The Raptors played right into their hands at the Oracle Arena, finally submitting to a superior offence by giving up an astonishing 42 points in the fourth quarter.
And Casey can talk until he’s hoarse about getting easy baskets in transition and quick, good looks on offence but watching his team defend like it did for large parts of Monday has to eating away at his insides.
David Lee had 29 points, Stephen Curry had 26 points and 13 assists and Klay Thompson had 22 points as the Warriors backcourt did whatever it wanted to, whenever it wanted to as Toronto suffered its fifth straight defeat.
“Against shooters like this you’ve got to be step for step, body for body, continue to have contact and not lose contact because the second you lose contact against treat shooters like that, they’re too quick on the draw,” said Casey.
And too many of the quick-draw shots were too uncontested. Toronto’s perimeter defence – except for a majority of the third quarter – varied from bad to atrocious. The Warriors shot 67 per cent in the first quarter, 64 per cent in the first half and 61 per cent in the fourth.
“You can play up-tempo, slow tempo but if you don’t guard people in this league and be physical and vigilant with it, you’re not going to go win too many games,” said Casey, who termed his team “soft defensively” in the most accurate assessment of the night.
For all the bad the defence did, it took away from a resurgent night offensively for the much-maligned Andrea Bargnani. He had five three-pointers as part of a 26-point night, the first time he’s eclipsed the 20-point plateau since early December.
He looked calm yet assertive with the ball, his skills finally returning, if for only one game.
“Of course, I am always confident in my shot but definitely today it felt good to make some three’s,” said Bargnani, who once again was in the starting lineup. “Coming back from an injury – I mean this wasn’t the luckiest season for me – it feels good to come through.
“I’m always going to shoot if I have an open shot but I did not shoot the ball well the past few games but it’s going to come with my shape coming back.”
But Bargnani, and DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson can shoot the lights out – as they did most of Monday – and it might not matter a lick.
“It’s not offence, 118 points in any game is enough points, we’ve got to get guys to body,” said Casey. “We have to turn around and get a defensive focus, offence will take care of itself, we’ve got enough scorers and offensive players.”