Why the Toronto Raptors succeed but the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /


The Raptors have the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA at 103.7. Recently, in a back and forth game in Chicago, Marc Gasol had a huge block on Lauri Markkanen in the paint to help win the game.

Plays like these, along with consistent team defense, allow the Raptors to be competitive even in the games that they’ve lost this season. They have been especially good in the paint, limiting teams to an average of 41.5 points per game inside the colored lines. That’s currently the second-best average in the association.

The Raptors have forced their opponents to change their gameplans and have taken stars out of the equation. Even when Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka missed an extended period of time, the team managed to stick to the strategy and make life on the opponent incredibly difficult.

The Maple Leafs can’t boast about their defensive abilities. Unlike the Raptors, they are statistically among the worst in their league. In fact, the Leafs own the ninth-worst goals-against to games played average in the NHL. They have also given up the sixth-most goals this season, allowing the puck to hit the back of their net 106 times.

This has not been a new struggle for the Leafs. They had the same deficits last season, but unfortunately, have not yet done enough to address them. They continued to be very poor at clearing the zone and protecting the net. That can be pinned to the makeup of their roster and blueline personnel.