Listed here are 10 takeaways from the Toronto Raptors‘ 127-100 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

1: The alarm bells are ringing for the Raptors, who’ve suffered blowout losses of 27, 32, and 30 factors in three of their final 4 video games: This isn’t simply an anomaly, and it’ll require speedy options to cease the bleeding. One of many calling playing cards of this crew is how laborious it competes, but the Raptors had been nowhere shut in any of those losses. Some points are outdoors of the crew’s management, however there are additionally a handful of minor changes that needs to be carried out as quickly as the subsequent sport. One of the best they’ll do is to right their self-inflicted points, whereas hoping for one of the best when it comes to well being. There may be undoubtedly a great crew in there someplace, however proper now, the Raptors are misplaced, confused, and having to regroup.

2: The most important challenge on this sport was the Raptors’ whole incapability to protect Trae Younger: The sport plan was to run him off the arc, however the Raptors additionally utilized zero stress on the Hawks star as soon as he obtained contained in the arc. The purpose of assault defence was poor, as Fred VanVleet on a sore knee was no match for Younger’s quickness, and there was a complete lack of help behind him. Younger repeatedly obtained downhill with out a second defender rotating over to gradual his momentum, which resulted in him making 16 two-point pictures, together with 13 pictures from contained in the paint. When the Raptors did attempt to crowd the paint, Younger was ready to select shooters together with his 11 assists. Toronto tried completely different defenders towards Younger, however they might all make the identical mistake of enjoying him too tight, which allowed him to get a step and go round. The Raptors have not allowed themselves to be carved aside by one participant to this diploma all season, so that you do have to offer a lot of credit score to Younger’s skills.

3. It is apparent that VanVleet is not wholesome: Nick Nurse hinted strongly at VanVleet being unavailable within the pre-game interviews, however as is commonly the case, his prediction on participant availability turned out to be inaccurate. VanVleet was higher than the eight-point effort he confirmed towards Charlotte, however he’s clearly laboured. This was one of many uncommon cases the place VanVleet was a legal responsibility on defence since he could not transfer laterally, which Younger exploited repeatedly in pick-and-roll sequences. VanVleet was capable of rating and distribute near common ranges, largely by enjoying within the two-man sport with Pascal Siakam to use mismatches within the defence, however the Raptors want him at his greatest on each ends of the ground. VanVleet first skilled knee soreness in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, which was two weeks in the past, and it nonetheless hasn’t improved. It’s massively regarding for the reason that schedule stays jam packed.

4. There are no nice choices to spell VanVleet at level guard: Malachi Flynn has proven some indicators of life in restricted stretches, however a great sport for him in the meanwhile seems like six factors and 0 assists on 2-of-10 capturing in 20 minutes. Flynn performed in two stretches alongside VanVleet, which is a lineup that the Raptors have explicitly shied away from because it leaves the backcourt far too quick on measurement, they usually had been burned. Dalano Banton is the opposite choice at level, however he’s extra of a secondary playmaker as an alternative of the one who persistently will get the crew into their units whereas having the ability to slash and shoot persistently. Whereas VanVleet is on this restricted state, Nurse’s greatest wager is to show many of the playmaking over to Siakam, and to make use of VanVleet extra off-ball to restrict how a lot he must create. That being mentioned, the Raptors would nonetheless want to offer Siakam a while to relaxation, and people moments may very well be very dicey given their harm scenario.

5. Siakam’s struggles needs to be short-lived: He’s underneath the climate with a non-COVID sickness, which can ultimately give option to the energetic and energetic Siakam that persistently delivered close to triple-double manufacturing earlier than the break. Siakam was higher on this sport as in comparison with the Hornets loss, as he was capable of get downhill a couple of instances. The problem is that the Raptors want him to assault aggressively for 40 minutes an evening, which is difficult to ask of him even when he is absolutely wholesome. The Raptors additionally weren’t producing any stops, which neutralized Siakam’s effectiveness within the transition sport. Siakam is the floor-raiser for the crew in the meanwhile, and while you compound his chilly spell with VanVleet’s knee and OG A woesnunoby’s absence, it is hardly a shock that the Raptors have misplaced by 59 factors within the final two video games.

6. Khem Birch will not be delivering on both finish of the ground: It might’t be straightforward for him, as Birch continues to put on a clunky masks owing to his facial surgical procedure earlier final month, and his complete season has been cease and begin on account of numerous accidents. However the backside line is that this: Birch is not positively impacting the sport on a constant foundation to command a spot within the beginning lineup. Birch’s defence has been absent all season outdoors of some quick blips, as he would not have the foot pace to play outdoors the paint, nor does he carry the specter of shot blocking, and Younger hunted him continuous in his 13 empty minutes on the ground. Birch’s worth comes on the offensive finish, the place his screening and fast passing helps to grease the wheels for others to attain, however the issue is that he cannot really reliably rating when it is his flip. He virtually by no means will get to the rim, and settles as an alternative for a brief flip shot that’s often his specialty, besides that he is lacking these possibilities as properly. Outdoors of that, he would not house the ground and there are higher choices to crash the glass. The fact is that the crew has confirmed able to profitable video games with out Birch, and there’s nothing that he doing in the meanwhile that might warrant an computerized begin forward of gamers who’ve really produced. Birch is situationally helpful in the way in which {that a} corkscrew can come in useful, however no one retains the corkscrew in the identical drawers because the knife and fork.

7. The rotations have been in flux as a result of Anunoby is out whereas Thad Younger has been introduced in: The only answer? Begin Younger instead of Anunoby. That retains everybody in the identical spots as they had been in over the previous two months, with Chris Boucher and Treasured Achiuwa being the primary two our bodies off the bench, whereas Banton and others compete for spare minutes at eight or 9 within the rotation relying on the matchup. Younger is a like-sized substitute for Anunoby on defence, and whereas he is not almost the identical degree as a shooter, Younger does provide playmaking out of the publish which ought to permit the Raptors to port over a lot of Anunoby’s performs. Younger’s greatest attribute additionally appears to be his fast and intuitive passing, which may have extra of an amplifying impact when paired with the starters who can really capitalize on open possibilities. Much like how the Raptors ask Birch to be the in-between participant on offence, Younger can serve the identical position besides with extra of an precise risk to complete.

8. Achiuwa had his greatest sport as a Raptor and retains trending positively: Achiuwa is beginning to discover his spots offensively, and it is allowed him to drop hints of his scoring skillset. He handles the ball properly for a centre, and is powerful and fast, which permits him to get to his spots. The difficulty is that earlier within the yr, Achiuwa did not appear to know what these spots had been, and it made for awkward pictures that broke momentum. Achiuwa has now discovered some synergy with VanVleet on the lob, and is timing his cuts properly as he paired properly with Siakam on a baseline dunk. Essentially the most promising facet of his sport, nevertheless, is his defensive prowess. He’s fast sufficient to protect everywhere in the flooring, he retains his man in entrance and forces them to shoot over his size, and he rebounds persistently. Achiuwa has been the Raptors’ greatest defensive choice at centre this season, and if it isn’t Younger that replaces Birch within the beginning lineup, it needs to be Achiuwa. The Raptors are a good 13-10 in video games the place Achiuwa has began this season.

9. Taking pictures stays an enormous challenge for the Raptors: The crew numbers hover round common since VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. have been lights out, however that is actually the extent of their capturing particularly now that Anunoby is out. No one else on the crew is a constant risk to even hit two threes a sport. That has damage their offence which has to work deep into the shot clock simply to get something going since their fundamental choices routinely get double teamed as a result of there is not the specter of capturing to maintain them sincere. During the last 4 video games, the Raptors have averaged simply eight made threes per sport. In Anunoby’s absence, the teaching workers ought to encourage extra gamers to let fly from deep, particularly in conditions like the place Younger recorded two shot clock violations the place he insisted on driving on a brief clock, simply to offer the principle guys extra of a break.

10. Nurse is catching warmth as any coach does after losses, however a lot of that is out of his management: The roster was flawed coming into the season, and their speedy weaknesses weren’t addressed on the commerce deadline. What this crew wanted was a 3rd guard who could make performs and shoot persistently, and as an alternative the entrance workplace added one other ahead. Many have pinned the harm scenario on Nurse, citing the Raptors having three gamers within the top-five in minutes per sport, however can anybody particularly hyperlink Anunoby or VanVleet’s accidents to enjoying an additional two minutes as in comparison with different high gamers? Fairly, it is the shortage of depth by advantage of the entrance workplace’s one-dimensional crew building that leaves the crew fully depending on 5 gamers that all the time should be be wholesome for the crew to compete.


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