|Jay Triano says the tough schedule and the new faces have slowed the gelling process on the team. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)
Raptors head coach Jay Triano has found himself increasingly on the defensive about his team’s lack of defence.
The 7-11 Raptors, losers of their last three games, have given up the second most points in the NBA (109.27) and Triano’s assertions that the club’s defence will eventually improve is starting to fall, if just a notch, on deaf ears.
But Triano remained steadfast Monday in the belief that, eventually, his club will come together on defence, adding that he sees positive signs, such as when they switched on defence and went to a zone coverage in a 113-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
Triano said, for instance, that the high-flying Suns, who lead the NBA in scoring (averaging 112 points), were 13-for-31 on possessions when the Raptors switched.
“I think we’re close. It’s just a matter of finding the best way to manage the personnel we have on the floor, at both ends of the floor,” said Triano. “Do we think about tweaking things a little bit? Yes. But at the same time, we committed to this (new system) through training camp and want to give it a chance.”
The Raptors get a bit of a break Tuesday when they host Washington at the Air Canada Centre. The 5-10 Wizards are not lights out on offence, averaging just 95.06 points — a good chance for Toronto’s new “defensive principles” to finally shine through.
It’s been a tough start for the Raptors, a team with nine new faces.
They played seven of their first 12 games on the road, including a tough four-game Western Conference swing, and now play six games in the next nine days, including three in a row on the road starting Wednesday in Atlanta.
Triano said the tough schedule and the new faces have slowed the gelling process on the team. Even when they have a day at home to practice, as was the case Monday, the head coach is reluctant to drive his team hard on defensive drills because of the glut of games on the horizon.
“We don’t want to play a lot of zone if we haven’t had a chance to practice it. And the next full practice we get is Dec.21,” said Triano. “I don’t remember the last time we had (a full practice) where it hasn’t been monitoring minutes because guys have to get rest. The schedule has been tough. But this is the NBA and we have to find ways to get around that.”
The club’s all-star forward Chris Bosh, who is almost carrying the club this season, said the worse thing to do at this point is panic.
“Change doesn’t always equal success,” said Bosh, who leads the NBA in double-doubles with 15. “The only change that we can do right now is in the way we play, and that’s really it.”
Bosh, who is also tied with Orlando’s Dwight Howard in rebounding (12.2 per game), added that, while others may not see it, his team is close” to becoming a responsible defensive team.
“A lot of people don’t have to see it. That’s not their job. That’s my job,” he said. “But it is close. It’s very close. It’s just going to take some time.”
“The results are going to come. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or in 18 games,” he added.