3 burning questions Raptors must answer as losing streak gets longer

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 16: Scottie Barnes #4 and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 16: Scottie Barnes #4 and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
1 of 3

The Toronto Raptors are playing some putrid basketball that is totally unbecoming of a contender of late. Winning two games out of nine, with both victories coming against depleted lottery teams in the Magic and Lakers, was bad enough. Things somehow got worse after this past week.

After getting swept in a two-game series in Orlando, the Raptors proceeded to blow two games in three days despite having double-digit second quarter leads at home. The Raptors are now 13-16 with losses in four straight, making their postseason picture much murkier.

The Raptors’ roster is much less reliable than it appeared to be when the season started. Key players keep missing games, some players aren’t taking the leaps the front office expected, and the half-court offense ranks as one of the league’s worst. Things are looking fairly glum.

Nick Nurse and the rest of the Raptors need to answer these burning questions about the state of the roster. While some facts were exposed by a humbling Brooklyn loss spearheaded by Kyrie Irving, this team still has so many unknown factors that will make for some scary times in the next few weeks.

3 burning questions the Toronto Raptors must answer

1. Why can’t the Raptors defend in the second half?

The Raptors’ losses against Sacramento and Brooklyn were painful mirror images of one another. Toronto won the first quarter on the back of dominant VanVleet performances, holding 16-point leads in the second quarter. That’s when the wheels fell off.

The Raptors proceeded to let the Kings catch fire behind a balanced performance from their two stars while the Nets leaned on their standout perimeter duo. The fact that the Raptors have been a beatable team in so many areas on defense has been a genuinely shocking development.

The Toronto Raptors struggle in the second half often.

Nurse’s team gave up 100 points in the second, third, and fourth quarters against the Nets, which is unacceptable defense. They also surrendered 99 points against the Kings, as they had no answer for Domantas Sabonis in the paint and De’Aaron Fox on the perimeter.

A young team having defensive breakdowns doesn’t sound crazy, but a team that has built their identity completely around being a tremendous defensive squad getting cooked on such a regular basis is alarming. If they’re not forcing turnovers, they’re screwed. Nurse needs to figure out why.