Of­fence con­ta­gious for Raptors, NBA

OR­LANDO 102, TORONTO 94

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DOUG SMITH

Ev­ery night there are NBA num­bers that as­tound — a 65point half by some team, 230 to­tal points in a game, 130 points or more by both teams, points by the bushel.

It can be wildly en­ter­tain­ing, if at times wildly frus­trat­ing to coaches who know the con­sis­tency of de­fence is the key to sus­tained suc­cess, and it seems to be the way the game is headed right now.

Of­fences are bet­ter, more so­phis­ti­cated in break­ing down de­fences. The play­ers are bet­ter and quicker and more ver­sa­tile. Big men take and make three-point­ers. It’s ba­si­cally im­pos­si­ble for one player to guard an­other with­out some help some­where.

The game is evolv­ing to the point that good of­fence of­ten beats good de­fence, so ev­ery­one has that in mind.

It’s fun to score, it’s hard to de­fend. Why would peo­ple be sur­prised that most play­ers de­cide for en­joy­ment rather than work?

“We keep crack­ing the whip as coaches but watch­ing the games, it’s not just us,” Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey said be­fore the Raptors dropped a 102-94 de­ci­sion to the Or­lando Magic. “It’s leaguewide. There’s such an em­pha­sis on the of­fen­sive side of the game — shoot­ing the three, get­ting to the rim — that I think it’s con­ta­gious around the league. It’s an of­fen­sive league, I think that’s the beauty of the NBA right now, it’s more of an of­fen­sive, en­ter­tain­ing league.”

The Raptors are hav­ing the great­est all-around of­fen­sive sea­son in fran­chise his­tory.

They went into Fri­day’s game av­er­ag­ing 85.6 field goal at­tempts per game, their most ever. They were shoot­ing 50.4 per cent from in­side the arc; only once have they shot bet­ter than 50 per cent from that range in a sea­son. Their 37.1 per cent ef­fi­ciency from three-point range has been beaten only two other times in fran­chise his­tory.

The Raptors av­er­age 109.5 points per game, five more points per game than the most po­tent of­fence in fran­chise his­tory.

“It’s al­most like a lot of teams in this league, in­clud­ing us, have fallen in love think­ing ‘OK, it’s an of­fen­sive slugfest,’” Casey said.

Even hav­ing cooled con­sid­er­ably from early last month, they re­main at an all-time high and re­main among the best in the NBA.

WIL­LIE J. ALLEN JR., THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Raptors Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas and Or­lando’s Bis­mack Biy­ombo bat­tle in Or­lando, Fla., Fri­day. Or­lando won 102-94.

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