Game two of the NBA Finals was a wild must win for the Golden State Warriors . A battle of attrition that the Dubs needed to avoid a 2-0 series deficit. Tonight, the series heads to Oakland, and once again I spoke with Raptors Blog’s Dylan Litman as he shares with me his perspective on the much publicized box-and-one situation and what he’s looking out of the Raptors tonight.
GSOM: Coach Nurse broke out the box-and-one defense at the end of Game 2. What does that say about Nurse’s willingness to experiment with schemes?
Dylan: Nick Nurse was heralded as a creative offensive guy before the season began; ironically, he ended up putting together one of the finest defenses of the past few years instead. The Raptors’ defense is methodical, yet varies game to game depending on matchups and adjustments. Provided Nurse is willing to pull out all the stops, Toronto’s lack of an identity can be a strength.
Last game, he remarkably broke out a defense most commonly used in high school basketball – the box-and-one. It even got a rise out of Steph Curry, who insulted Nurse’s scheme post-game. But hey, it held the Warriors scoreless for a good few minutes. I respect Nurse’s audacity.
GSOM: What do you think the Raptors offense should do to counter what the Warriors will throw at them defensively?
Dylan: The Raptors couldn’t buy a bucket in Game 2; they shot 37.2% from the field and 28.9% from three. Though, I’m not sure how much of the credit I can attribute to the Warriors’ defense. Toronto shot a third of their three point attempts either open (closest defender 4-6 feet away) or wide open (6+ feet), yet connected on just 29% of them. I think taking care of the Warriors’ back cuts and lobs should be a priority, as that spurred the run that decided the game.
With how hobbled the Warriors are, it’s difficult to assess what they might throw at the Raptors defensively. Since Kevon Looney is out, I’d recommend for the Raptors to attack Andrew Bogut with some cuts of their own. As well, I’d like to see more pick-and-rolls involving Pascal Siakam to get him off Draymond Green.
GSOM: DeMarcus Cousins started Game 2 and his impact was felt down the stretch. What approach should the Raptors take in trying to limit him?
Dylan: Toronto’s big men should hover near the three-point line to prevent Cousins from driving, but not so near that they can’t recover to help if Steph or Klay get open on the perimeter. I can’t imagine Boogie will be the Raptors’ primary focus, however. He played just 28 minutes on Sunday, and Marc Gasol is usually a deft enough defender to contain him. I think he was caught off guard by DeMarcus’ quickness and strength – suddenly, he looks pretty healthy – but I expect Marc to settle his nerves before Game 3.