Why the Raptors lost to the Clippers
Imman Adan and Asad Alvi discuss how the usual issues with the Raptors' offence contributed to the Clippers taking control of the game. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
ASAD ALVI: The Clippers clearly came in playing like a team and playing a rotation as if that they are very much desperate. They're a team that's struggled since the trade deadline, since adding Russell Westbrook off the buyout market. They came into this game, I think, 1 and 5 or 1 and 6.
And they really needed a win. And you can see that if you look at Kawhi Leonard's game logs for the last basically month, where he's been playing crazy minutes. And tonight, he basically played his second highest minutes in regulation for the season at 40 minutes.
And that's what you kind of saw. Now, the Clippers-- again, Clippers-Raptors always is a tough match-up because there are similarly built teams, albeit a little bit different, in the sense that they got a lot of big wings and they switch every match-up as well. So it's hard to create half court advantages in easy fashion. So it tends to be a tough match-up for the Raptors as it is.
IMMAN ADAN: Laurence Frank just copied [INAUDIBLE] playbook but basically was like, we have Kawhi and Paul George. We're just going to do it a little bit better.
ASAD ALVI: Effectively. The Raptors were able to kind of press them in the first quarter especially with the Clippers not having a true point guard. Again, they went past another deadline, another summer, and acquired no point guards to help address their needs. So they ended up turning the ball over a ton in that first quarter, and the Raptors were unable to really capitalize on that.
So, they built a lead but nowhere near as big a lead as they probably should have, which is, again, just like, you know, the Raptors, they've been playing stretches of good basketball, stretches of really good defense, stretches of really good offense, but just not enough cohesiveness to kind of, like, maximize the opportunities they make for themselves. So, similar to the Denver game, they just didn't capitalize enough on the part of the game where they created opportunities for themselves to give themselves the buffer against good teams when it comes down the stretch and the game gets a little bit tighter.
The Clippers basically switched up. They let Kawhi be the main ball handler, effectively, for most of the second quarter onwards to give them kind of like a steady hand and not turn the ball over at the top of the key. The Raptors were still able to turn them over a fair bit, but again, [INAUDIBLE] a great player, be able to set them down.
And then the Raptors on the other end, without that transition boost that they were getting, starting to struggle a little bit in the halfcourt to create really any advantage outside of like, I think, a Fred Jakob Poeltl pick and roll, which the Clippers started just sending more bodies to really snuff out. So, a tough game to watch. I'm not usually a fan of watching Clipper games personally.
It's tough to watch. They're hard matchups for the Raptors. But it's one of those games where I think I personally came in with the expectation that the Raptors would probably lose that game. But given how the last two games have gone and especially how the Raptors have looked in those games where it's like, oh, you very much have chances to win these games, but you're making a lot of unforced errors that are not giving you the margin of error needed on the road to win those games-- like, you're losing these games, not just because the other team's good but because you're making some silly mistakes.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, no. I think you hit on everything there. I caught bits and pieces of the ESPN broadcast because, you know, when you get a nationally televised game, you got to get some clips there. And to me, it was really fascinating because in the first quarter, Mark Jackson was being very complimentary of the Raptors defense, which, rightfully so. And you said a transition boost, and I was like, can we really call it that?
Because they were just not able to capitalize off of the amount of turnovers that they were forcing specifically in the first quarter. Second quarter, you made no mention of the Raptors defense, rightfully so, which is like, when you're playing as tight as you are in the first quarter and you're forcing as many turnovers as you are, you can't just have moments where you're doing no look passes in transition.
And it turned-- through traffic, I should say, turning it into turnovers. You can't have moments where you're Gary Trent Jr., and it's like a three on one fast break, and you're actually not looking for anybody, and you get your shot blocked. You can't have moments like that because it limits your transition opportunities, and that's the only time that this Raptors team can really score against the Clippers defense.
We saw it. The Clippers defense was just taking everything in the paint. Like, the Raptors had no space at all down there. None of the shots that they were-- like, they actually shot fairly well from outside.
They were hitting their perimeter shots. They just couldn't get anything inside. And, hey, if you can't get anything in transition and you can't get anything inside, you're probably not going to win even with like a 25-- what was it, a 25 possession differential there. That's really massive, and that's how the Raptors win.
And Mike [INAUDIBLE] actually mentioned. He was kind of flabbergasted by this stat, not recognizing that this is just Raptors basketball. And he was like, Raptors only shooting 37% from the floor, yet they lead in this game. It was early in the first half.
And he's like, yet they lead in this game. Meanwhile, the Clippers are shooting 51%. I mean, if the Raptors let the Clippers get a shot off, it's probably going in. It's just when they get the stops that they're able to shut them down, which is essentially what the Raptors defense has been.
It's getting stops. That is it. That is the crux of it. And it's a possession battle, and guess what?
You lose the possession battle, you lose the game. Here, they won the possession battle except when you take free throws into account. That's where they really, really, really, really got hurt, and I think we can transition into what every--