Raptors’ first task is hanging onto ball
Have committed 59 turnovers in 3 games
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A whopping 59 turnovers in three post-season games.
There’ve been times the Toronto Raptors’ playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets has resembled a kick-ball tournament, with balls bouncing wildly off feet.
The Nets lead the best- of-seven playoff series 2-1 heading into today’s Game 4 at Barclays Center, and the Raptors know they desperately need to clean up their act to avoid heading back to Toronto trailing 3-1.
“If we can get it down to 13, 12, somewhere in that area we are happy with that,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “Some of the no-look passes, passes where we think our teammates are going to be, are things we can correct.
“You are not going to turn some of our guys into Magic Johnson overnight but we can make better decisions of things we control in our turnovers.”
Giveaways have been a theme of all three games, and each time, the Raptors have come away vowing to do a better job of protecting the ball. Yet the kick balls and the crazy passes continue. They coughed it up 19 times in Game 1, 21 times in Game 2, and 19 times in Friday night’s Game 3, a 102-98 loss.
The Raptors practised at Pace University on Saturday, just across the bridge from Brooklyn. It was a long morning of making adjustments on both the offensive and defensive end, said Casey, ahead of Game 4. The Raptors are looking for their first playoff victory on the road since a win over Philadelphia way back in 2001.
At least for part of the practice, Casey addressed turnovers. He said aggression has something to do with it — players are getting bumped and giving up the ball.
He spoke of working on players’ “dispositions,” which goes for both their aggression in holding onto the ball, and playing with aggression period. The Raptors were manhandled by the Nets for the better part of four quarters Friday, finally fighting back late in the game to come within a point.
But disposition isn’t an easy thing to coach with just a day or two between easy games.
“Well, you have to appeal to the guys’ pride, their ego and intelligence and we have some intelligent players on this team,” the coach said. “Again, it’s playoff basketball. If you can’t get a disposition in the right order at this time of year, this is what we play for.
“Our franchise hasn’t been there for a while so if we can’t get excited now about being tough, physical and fighting through the screens, not complaining about it but fighting through the screens and not letting them hold you and getting to your spot, all those things are disposition plays.”
DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas have been Toronto’s best two players this series, but they’ve also turned the ball over more than anyone. Valanciunas has turned it over 13 times, one more than DeRozan.
The Nets have turned the ball over 31 times combined over the three games, and the discrepancy in giveaways is the one glaring statistic in a series that is otherwise so even. The Raptors have outscored the Nets by just a single point — 678- 677 — in the seven meetings between these two teams this season.
“Man we’ve just got to be strong with the ball,” said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. “They’re definitely physical when we drive the lane but we’ve got to be a little bit stronger. It’s playoff time. We’ve got to be stronger with the ball when we’re driving.”
Casey said the previous night that Lowry looked like he’d been through a “15-round bout,” and the gritty point guard looked similarly the worse for wear Saturday morning.
— The Canadian Press
The Raptors need a big effort today from guard DeMar DeRozan.