Toronto Raptors Are Getting No Respect

Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IMarch 25, 2010

Chris Bosh gets injured and the Toronto Raptors impressive run comes to an end.  Chris Bosh returns, possibly too early, and is wildly inconsistent in his play.

“If the Nets game is excluded, Bosh has averaged just 19.4 points on 43.8 percent shooting since his return.”

Source: Bosh’s Stellar Season Stalls

But many in the local media only seem to be to see the Raptors as the post All-Star break team that has yet to find their stride since Bosh was hurt. It seems no one can imagine that the Raptors fortunes will return to their pre All-Star status once Bosh regains his form.

Giving up on a team in eighth place, three loses ahead of ninth, seems very premature.  But maybe it’s never too early to lead the charge when jumping off of the bandwagon.

With over five weeks and nine games into his recovery, Bosh should be fully recovered by now.

Just in time too. 

The Raptors are about to start a week of games that will likely decide their playoff fate.

But surprisingly there has been little focus on just how much Bosh has struggled since his return. Much of the focus has been on the Raptors defense—some people even grossly exaggerating the Raptors defensive flaws to the point of calling them “the league’s worst defense” according to Raptors Republic .

It’s not that the Raptors defense hasn’t been suspect this season. 

There have been holes in the Raptors defensive schemes that teams have driven 105 points per game through. But that doesn’t put the Raptors anywhere near the league’s worst.

The league’s worst team for surrendering points is the Golden State Warriors. GSW gives up 112 points per game and has a solid claim to being the league’s worst defensive team. Backing up GSW’s claim is their opponent’s league leading 48.8 percent shooting.

The Toronto Raptors are fourth in points surrendered at 105 but are 12th in opponent’s field goal percentage at 46.6.

Another defensive aspect the Raptors take a lot of heat for is their inability to defend against the three-point shot.

But Philadelphia claims the worst three-point defense by permitting 39.8 percent of their opponents' three-point shots to drop. Toronto is only fifth worst with 36.5 percent.

The points per game surrendered measure fail to consider pace. Teams can play good defense and give up points if they are playing at a higher pace, but how effective their defense is will show up in field goal percentage and points differential.

The league’s worst team, the New Jersey Nets, has the biggest point differential at -10.3 points per game.  The Toronto Raptors are thirteenth at -1.89, and before Bosh was hurt, the Raptors point differential was zero.

A reasoned measure of the Raptors defense would consider them to be in the bottom half of the NBA defensively. A 12th or 13th worst defensive ranking may be in order.

But calling the Raptors the league’s worst defensive club is grossly unfair.

Since the start of the season, almost everyone recognized the Raptors success would come from being a top offense and a middle of the pack defense.

During the middle 32 game stretch of the season when things were going well, the Raptors had that formula down perfectly. It is only a small move on offense and defense for the Raptors to regain that form.

And with key matchups coming soon, the time to find that form is now.