The Toronto Raptors’ inability to hit open shots has been their undoing in several games this season, Amit Mann and Katie Heindl discuss whether or not they’ll find consistency this season. Full episode discussing the major storylines around the team is on the ‘Raptors Over Everything’ podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: I mean, there's a lot to look at from this game. I can't believe they took 116 shots, and they had a 32% field goal percentage. That is insanity. Fred and Gary both shot 8 of 23, which is-- yeah, I mean, don't have to go into that too much. But the shooting was the problem. It's been the problem for most of the season. It's been very up and down.
Are you in the camp that this is what it is, or do you still have faith that there could be a light at the end of this tunnel, and they might figure it out sooner than later? Because later isn't going to cut it either.
KATIE HEINDL: I mean, there is a light unless you're willing to cut everybody who's having problems right now loose. I will say the one person who you can't really-- I don't think you can dissect his offensive play that much last night-- is probably OG, just because when you have that offensive assignment, primarily of Giannis, and you're just taking-- you're letting him basically run at you and crumble you over and over and over again, it's tough to have offensive energy on the other end And be relied upon for that.
So I'm not worried about OG in terms of his shooting. Otherwise, it's tough to say. But a part of me is like, this is what it is, because we've seen this for so many games now. I'd say two weeks ago, I would have called this a slump. But you're starting to settle into this is just a routine. There are certain individuals who I think will shoot through it. I think Fred VanVleet is probably just having a strange year. Most of his stats, as he said last night in the post-game, are actually on par with last year, his All-Star season, aside from field goal percentage. That's waffling a bit.
AMIT MANN: And he was saying that eventually, it's going to even out.
KATIE HEINDL: Yes, and I think he's correct. And I went back and looked at those numbers because I was like, that's interesting. And it's true. For Gary, it's great that he hit that clutch shot. It was kind of like a flash of, like, oh, yeah, this is what he's capable of.
But otherwise, less than the shots not falling, I think what was more worrying to me is just the trepidation to shoot. There were so many sequences last night where it was just endless ball movement under the basket, like, I'll still pass. I'll kick this out. You should take the shot. Someone's going to have to take the shot.
It sucks to be like, yeah, I'm going to take the shot. I'm probably going to miss because that's how the game was going. But at some point, Malachi is throwing it away. Scottie is throwing it away. Chris Boucher is throwing it away and just kicking it back out and out to Fred and everybody else at the wing.
So you've got to break that at some point. And that trepidation and hesitation is what bodes the least well to me. That's what makes me feel like whatever this is, this is what the team is now. They've got to-- this is not just a streak to snap. This is something a little bit deeper.
AMIT MANN: Yeah. There is reasons to suggest both. And I think that's been the problem for most of the year. Early on, you just felt like it was going to change because this is what we're used to. We're used to Fred being close to, like, 37% 3-point shooter. We're used to Gary. And his numbers have improved over time. Past 10 games have been pretty good.
Yesterday, obviously, was not very good outside of that shot. But he did get better as the game went on. Pascal might be the only person, actually, that's been improving his 3-point percentage as the season has gone on. Go figure it's him doing that. But even last night, I'm quoted on this podcast-- last week, I said that I'd like him to shoot five 3's a game.
And he shot two yesterday, and both of them-- I mean, it goes to a bit of a scheme thing, which I think there's ways to utilize them as a catch-and-shoot player if you incorporate other players on the floor. But I think he needs to be shooting five a game because I think it's going to open up space for other players. And also, just his game overall-- it's going to make defenses second guess his movements and how he's going to be approaching his offensive game.
Malachi Flynn, he had a nice little stretch there. Past four games, he's 1 of 13. Scottie Barnes, 2 of 19 over his last eight. And we're going to get to Scottie as well. We're going to get into a lot of things in this chat, aren't we? So yeah, there's reason to suggest both considering where we are in the season. It's getting harder and harder to say that it is going to improve.
The way teams are guarding the Raptors, it's almost being handed down the totem pole to each team because this is how you stop them. You make them shoot 3-point shots, you take away the paint, and you're going to be in a pretty good spot to stop them from scoring the ball. And if you don't turn over the ball and you eliminate their fast-break opportunities, then you're probably going to win the game.
And that's been the story for the entire season. Last season, it wasn't necessarily like that because they showed glimpses of good 3-point shooting even though it still wasn't great. But Precious had his second half, and as players were getting healthy, they kind of found a groove a little bit. That groove has never been found.
It's just-- it's hard to even say. I pose this question to you, but even I don't know. There's not a lot of reason to suggest it's going to get better outside of maybe a player or two, like Chris Boucher going 0 of 3, all of those wide opens. Thad young has been in and out of lineup, didn't play yesterday.
Precious took two shots yesterday. He didn't look necessarily comfortable shooting them. I think it's like he's still getting his pace right as he's getting acclimated to playing NBA basketball. He ended up missing 20-some-odd games. So it's really-- it's a tricky one to say that this is going to definitely improve. But during this homestand, which is, again, going to be more of a make or break for this team and what's going to be happening come trade deadline time-- it's something they got to-- they got to hit shots.
You just have to hit shots. Oh.