We asked the experts: How do you beat the 23-7 Raptors?
Around the NBA
We went around the country to the NBC Sports NBA Insiders and Reporters at our various NBA cities for some insight on how exactly do you beat the 23-7 Toronto Raptors who are currently #1 in the East and just put a whooping on the Golden State Warriors.
NBC Sports Washington
Ben Standig, Washington Wizards Reporter, NBC Sports Washington
Here are some thoughts beyond stating 'Good luck...'
So, you want to know how to beat the Raptors? Having watched Toronto win both matchups against Washington, I was going to ask around for suggestions. Everything is clicking for the Raptors in part because of their depth and perimeter shooting. The second unit, led by point guard Fred VanVleet might be more dangerous than the starters on a pound for pound level, meaning there's no letting up even when Toronto's starters rest. Otherwise, defend the arc. The Raptors put shooters all over the court and can change momentum with a barrage of 3-pointers. However, the seven-loss team is just 6-6 when shooting 31.4 percent or worse on 3-pointers.
NBC Sports Philadelphia
Paul Hudrick, NBC Sports Philadelphia
First of all, pray that Kawhi Leonard is getting one of his “rest” nights because that dude is a monster and playing at MVP level. Even if Leonard is out, the biggest issue in competing with Toronto is their depth and the athleticism of said depth. If you don’t have the horses to get up and down the floor with the Raptors for 48 minutes – which few teams do -- good luck.
NBC Sports Chicago
Mark Schanowski, host of Bulls Pre/Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago
Here in Chicago, we just saw the Raptors a few weeks ago, and would up on the wrong end of a 122-83 score. Toronto is playing at an extremely high level right now with one of the best 2nd units in the league. Keeping Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, O.G. Anunoby and C.J. Miles from going off on an extended run to open up a big lead before the starters return is the key to having a chance to steal a win at the end. Toronto won’t have big man Jonas Valanciunas against the Blazers, so Portland should try to get the ball inside to Jusuf Nurkic and win the points in the paint stat.
NBC Sports Boston
A. Sherrod Blakely, Celtics Insider, NBC Sports Boston
As talented as Kawhi Leonard has been for Toronto, Lowry is the one that allows this very good team to play consistently at an elite level. A four-time All-Star, Lowry is averaging a career-high 10.0 assists per game. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Lowry has an offensive rating of 81 in losses. When Toronto wins? That number jumps up to 130.
NBC Sports Bay Area
Monte Poole, Warriors Insiders, NBC Sports Bay Area
Let's keep it simple:
- Defend like hell, particularly beyond the 3-point line.
- Avoid turnovers, because they launch a devastating transition game.
NBC Sports Northwest
Dwight Jaynes, Trail Blazers Insider, NBC Sports Northwest
The Trail Blazers shooting over 50 percent from three would be huge. and they need to hold Toronto under 42 percent from the field. It is also key that the Blazers have a lead going into the fourth quarter (Blazers have yet to win a game when trailing going into the fourth).
Jamie Hudson, Trail Blazers Reporter, NBC Sports Northwest
For the Blazers to compete against the Raptors, Portland will need to get the ball movement going early and often. Also, playing all four quarters with the bench producing on offense is going to be key.