The Raptors have now fallen to one game below .500 on the season (5-6) with a 130-112 road loss to the Denver Nuggets. The game was tied 64-64 at halftime, but the Raptors came out of the locker room and continued to display a lackluster effort on defense and were outscored 66-48 the rest of the way.
As I was looking at the Raptors games thus far, I noticed an potentially alarming trend. After winning the ACC home opener vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Toronto Raptors only appear to be showing up 2 games at a time. Let's take a look at their past 10 games:
Lost 2 (@ Memphis, vs. Orlando)
Won 2 (vs. Detroit, @ New Orleans)
Lost 2 (@ Dallas, @ San Antonio)
Won 2 (vs. Chicago, @ Los Angeles Clippers)
Lost 2 (@ Phoenix, @ Denver)
Albeit the loss to Phoenix was by 1 point, the other 5 losses were convincing wins by the opposition. I know sometimes trends are just that and not much can be gleaned from them, but the Raptors are now 2-5 on the road for the season, yet 3-1 at home. In the 5 losses to teams not named the Phoenix Suns, the Raptors lacked the defensive effort they exemplified against Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago (2nd half), and the LA Clippers (2nd half).
We are 1/8 of the way into the NBA season, with the Raptors having 11 games now under their belt. Their defense continues to be suspect and it will be an absolute necessity in order for the Raptors to achieve their goal of participating in the NBA Playoffs this season.
The Raps need 48 minutes of defensive effort from all 12 players, whether at home or on the road. The Raptors have no problem scoring baskets (they have scored 99-plus points in all 11 games) - they must stop their opposition from doing it so frequently. The Raptors have given up 115-plus points in five of their six losses, and 124-plus in four of those six.
I know Coach Triano preaches this in every practice & every game - the Raptors must find it within themselves as players to bring a committed defensive effort on a nightly basis...otherwise the trend we've just discussed will continue.
Here are 6 minute video recaps of the Raptors last 4 games - 2 losses, preceeded by 2 wins: