Woz Blog: These pass-happy Raptors a far cry from your grandfather’s Raptors
Remember when the Raptors wouldn’t (couldn’t?) pass the ball? For years, this group took advantage of individual strengths at the expense of being more dangerous as a cohesive team. Those days are gone.
The Raptors registered 31 assists in a blowout win over Detroit on Monday night, the second time this month they’ve hit that mark. They’ve also put up 38 and 35 assists games in February and have eclipsed 30 seven times since December 5.
Toronto’s now 10th in assist ratio (29th last season ), 19th in assist percentage ( 30th), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (25th). It’s hard to imagine there have ever been 180s pulled in those categories in such significant fashion many times before, if at all. It sets the Raptors up to be more dangerous than ever come playoff time, especially with secondary creators like Pascal Siakam, who was excellent, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet and DeMar DeRozan, who has never been better as a passer, taking pressure off of Kyle Lowry.
OG Anunoby is not one of the players creating chances. He really impressed early on with his ability to make pretty assists without turning the ball over, but we haven’t seen much of that lately. He has drastically increased his turnovers from January though and he also was a bit more aggressive on offence against the Pistons than we’ve seen in recent outings.
“That was really good to see,” Dwane Casey said afterward.
“I was really excited to see that just because of all the confident things he can do that’s going to make him a better offensive player. He does a heck of a job defensively, gives us the big body. We just need the sweat plays under the basket, making cuts, running the floor, all the little things because he’s not having a lot of plays called for him right now. He’s got to do all the little things and beat everybody down the floor, like Pascal does.”
Which leads one to think that as impressive as the offence has looked all year now, it can get to another level as Anunoby continues to improve.
It felt like the Raptors just collectively decided, enough of this, after the half-time break when the lead was only six points. They scored 14 straight early in the third quarter and the game was never close again.
The rest factor gets brought up a lot when it comes to Serge Ibaka, mainly because the eye test indicates that he has an extra spring in his step when he gets more time to recuperate. However, the stats don’t completely back the theory up. While Ibaka shoots quite a bit better with one day of rest compared to how he fares in back-to-backs, if you add an extra day or two of extra rest, he actually shoots worse than he does with zero rest. On offence at least, Ibaka is pretty much the same player regardless of time off. The argument holds up best when looking at his play at the other end. Ibaka’s blocked shot and steal numbers shoot up when he gets two or three days between games.
Not a single Pistons player posted a positive plus/minus. One-time Raptor Dwight Buycks came the closest at -2.
1 – Kyle Lowry
2 – Pascal Siakam
3 – DeMar DeRozan