What a Toronto Raptors Win Looks Like

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IDecember 14, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 02:  Chris Bosh #4 of the Toronto Raptors against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After watching the Altanta Hawks breeze through Toronto to pick up an easy win, Jay Triano made the comment that the Raptors were not taking enough three-point shots.

Now the “boys” at Gate 5 noticed; Leo, Sherm, and Adnan jumped on this comment and immediately began the post-game discussion along the lines of: no more three-points shots, it's defense they need!

And after going 3-7 over the past 10 games, perhaps they, and most everyone else, has forgotten how this Raptors team actually wins.

After 25 games into the schedule, the Raptors are scoring an average 104.1 points per game. This wouldn’t be bad, except that they are giving up 108.8!

But these Raptors have been a “Jekyll and Hyde” affair this season. Usually either surprising good or depressingly bad.

And the Gate 5 Live argument for more defense has some merit. As they pointed out, the Raptors are a perfect seven wins and zero losses when they hold opponents to under 100 points. How soon we forget to look at how this team was built and get fixated on meaningless round numbers to draw our conclusions.

This Raptors team was built around offense.  And when the Raptors hold their opposition to less than 115 points, they are a very respectable 10 wins and six losses. That is a lot of points, but these Raptors have the fire power to offset it.

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Now when the Raptors give up a 115 points or more, they have zero wins and nine losses! Every team has its breaking point. And unfortunately the Raptors have been finding theirs far too often.

So was Jay Triano just out in left field by himself again? Well he might have been by himself on this one, but he wasn’t all the way back to the fence.

This season, when the Raptors take fewer than 20 three-point shots, they are 3-9.  And it hasn’t mattered whether they were shooting well or poorly. A failure to shoot enough threes can be linked to a failure to win.

And when the Raptors shoot 20 or more threes, their record moves to 7-6.  Not exactly a sure-fire road to victory.  But the Raptors appear to be giving themselves their best chance this way.

The three-point shot is what the Raptors use to space the floor and create space for their star player, Chris Bosh.  And Bosh scores 26.9 points per game when the Raptors take their three-pointers. His points production dropping to 20.7 points when they fail to take 20 or more threes.

Just to round out this statistical look at what gives these Raptors their best chance at a win. Let's check out rebounds and assists as well.

With the addition of the high assist small forward Hedo Turkolgu and a quality back up point guard in Jack, one would have thought the Raptors would be a league leader in assists this season.  But one would have thought wrong.

The Raptors are a disappointing middle of the pack, 20.4 assists per game. And getting assists really does matter to this team’s success.

When the Raptors get 22 assists per game, a number they should easily achieve, they are a very good 7-2.  But when they fail to get to 22, they are a disappointing 3-13.

How can a team with this many quality jump shooters fail to get assists on 75 percent of their shots?  If ever their was an indication of a group that had failed to “gel”, this is probably it.

Raptors rebounding is yet another page from this “Jekyll & Hyde” story.

In half their games the Raptors are grabbing 43 or more rebounds and have a respectable 8-5 record.

In the other half, where the Raptors fail to grab 43 boards, they are an awful 2-10.

So what seems to define a Raptors win this season? 

The Raptors are most likely to win when:

They pass the ball;

They rebound;

They shoot their threes; and,

They hold their opponent to under 115 points!
(Under 100 is better but one shouldn’t over-reach.)

Somehow that doesn’t sound like it should be all that hard to do?

And on Sunday afternoon, the Raptors hosted a very solid 13-9 Houston Rockets team that had won five of their past six games.  Surprisingly to some, the Raptors won 101-88.

The Raptors kept their opponent to under 100 points to go 8-0 when achieving this mark and the Raptors got 22 assists to prove that they can share the ball.

The rebounds were 41-40 in favor of the visitors and apparently the Raptors can win without 20 or more long bombs as they hit on 5-12 from three. Sorry Jay, I guess you'll just have to live with the victory.

The Raptors were without Jose Calderon again due to a hip injury but Jarrett Jack came in and did what Bryan Colangelo expected he'd get from his big free agent signing. Jack was 17, 8, and 8 on the day and played one of his best games as a Raptor. And just maybe the team has found a leader in Jack? T.B.D.

The athletic Sonny Weems took Antoine Wright's spot in the rotation and had an immediate impact with 11 points and four rebounds, plus he played effective defense.  Weems is a "virtual" rookie in terms of NBA experience but he looked very good in this game.

It was all smiles and accolades from the Raptors post-game crew after this game.

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