After dropping the first two games, the Toronto Raptors are in desperate need of a change of plans.
The Toronto Raptors are one of the sweetest 3-point shooting teams around. They shot for 37% from deep and ranked fifth in the league in 3-point field goal percentage during the regular season and smacked the Brooklyn Nets around when they shot from deep where they knocked down 43% of their outside shots.
However, their shooting has come to a devastating halt against the Boston Celtics during their first two games of the second round. In those two games, the Raptors have shot a putrid 26% from beyond the arc. Between a combination of bricking open looks and tight perimeter defense from the Celtics, the Toronto Raptors look like a shell of their former selves against the Nets.
Now, down 2-0, the Toronto Raptors need to change their strategy if shooting the ball from deep isn’t working. Confidence may be the underlying issue here. The Celtics, while a great team, aren’t head-and-shoulders above the other title contenders that the Raptors, so they aren’t out just yet.
Create more opportunities inside the arc
In fact, certain elements of the Toronto Raptors’ game may be of more value in game three. The Raptors have been consistent from the field when working from within the pain or the occasional mid-range jumper.
In both games, the Raptors went a combined 46 for 94, or 49% field-goal percentage, from inside the arc. Fred Van Vleet attempted 12 three-pointers in Game 2 while only making three, but otherwise went made five shots out of ten when shooting from two.
Pascal Siakam also made only a single three-pointer in the game out of four shots and made five of twelve from inside. The only consistent three-point shooters for the Raptors right now are Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby.
Drawing more fouls to get to the line
Whether Nick Nurse should focus more on playing inside the paint rather than forcing shots from deep. If Nurse opts to use a more physically aggressive style of basketball in the paint, then it could also lead to the Toronto Raptors drawing more fouls, something they could have benefited more of in game two.
In the first half of the second game, the Raptors did not shoot from the line once. Most of their attempts came from outside the arc and some from mid-range. On the other hand, the Boston Celtics made it to the line 25 times, 6 more than the Raptors made.
The Raptors upped their aggression in the second half which led to points, but if they played like that throughout, a few extra trips to the free-throw line might have been enough to give them the edge.
The Toronto Raptors are quick and fearless and without the presence of an elite rim-protector on the Celtics, the transition to playing in the paint might benefit the team entirely.
If they start successfully attempting easier lay-ups and drives to the net, it could lead to a dramatic change of confidence that could spark Toronto’s best shooters.
This won’t necessarily be easy as the Celtics are no pushovers. Though, this would require much more efficiency from Siakam, Van Vleet, and Kyle Lowry, who all have been stagnant on offense since the start of the series.
Coming back after losing the first two won’t be easy, but history tells us the Toronto Raptors have done it once before. If Nurse can effectively switch up their game and the players can increase their efficiency, then this series might head to seven games.