The NBA Playoffs starts tonight with the Golden State Warriors defending the title against the Toronto Raptors in a match up that almost all have Golden State favored. Because I believe the odds are correct I'll highlight the Raptors weakness's that will stand out against the Champs.
The match up will be a first in some time for the Raptors as they can be seen as a new team from previous years where they made the playoffs but fell short when favored to win. Against the Sixers they started to look like that team who would fold under pressure when plan A or Plan B doesn't work. But they surprised me by digging deep and taking it to 7 games and winning when they needed to.
Against the Bucks though they showed quite a few weakness's that will get exposed in this series.
The Raptors do not have a complex offensive scheme. I would compare it to any of the higher level college run offense's in that they care more about how many players touch the ball more than match up advantages or disadvantages. They want to run a slow offense that limits possessions, walking the ball up the court and trying to catch a defensive player getting caught helping the weak side of the ball.
There is some pick and roll but because their bigs are extremely slow they are limited to pick and fade with the big man setting up at the 3 point line. Against the Bucks this worked because their bigs can't extend to help at the 3 point line. This scenario against the Warriors will force quite a few bad shots and turnovers due to bad passes.
Sure, the Raptors can run when given a turnover but that's about it. Their walk it up style will make the possession numbers heavily favor the Warriors meaning Golden State could shoot 8 percent below what the Raptors do and still win.
On the Defensive side, the Raptors do show a good switch defense at the corners but at the top of the key they get lost. This problem will mean drives to the lane which will be wide open. Once the corners come to help, 3 shooters at the corners will go to work.
The Raptors also believe in collapsing at the rim to stop layup drives. Every Warrior player can drive as a point guard and then make the right pass out of a collapsing defense. Expect the Raptors to be chasing the ball quite a bit in the first half until they give up on that game plan.
The Raptors shot a relatively good percentage against the Bucks but had trouble getting past 100 points. That doesn't point to a strong defense by the Bucks. It means the Raptors are turnover prone, slow paced and deliberate on possessions.
Finally, the Raptors set up as a Eastern Conference team that favors size at the 4 and 5 have a massive problem. Too many bigs who can't switch or come out to defend the 3. Any advantage Gasol will have shooting a 3 on offense will be a liability on defense.
I've got the warriors winning in 5 only because Golden State tends to get bored and need to feel like they are against it sometimes so they lose big on 1 game.