Raptors in for an earful

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:14 PM ET

NEW YORK — Sometime between the conclusion of Monday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers and tipoff Wednesday night against the Knicks in New York, these Raptors are in for the kind of forceful reminder high school teachers normally reserve for only their most resistant students.

Whether it was on the team flight from Indy (doubtful) or at some point on a non-practice Tuesday in New York (unlikely) or whether Jay Triano was forced to wait until Wednesday mornings’ shootaround in New York (most likely), the Raptors are scheduled for an earful.

You could see the frustration in Triano’s face and hear it beneath his words after the second straight drilling his team suffered Monday night in Indianapolis.

Triano was ticked off, and rightly so, having told his team exactly what to expect and what needed to be done and then having seen it almost completely ignored.

In short, the Raps knew both the Knicks and to an even bigger degree the Pacers would attempt to settle the issue from beyond the three-point line. They knew it and despite the warnings they let it happen anyway.

The Knicks drained 12 three pointers on Sunday. On Monday, the Pacers went one better and hit 13.

Whether they realize it or not, and right now the latter looks more likely, these Raptors need to accept the fact that they have to adjust their defensive strategy on a nightly basis depending on the opponent.

On Monday night, it looked like they were still operating on the same game-plan they used to beat the Oaklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

Triano as much as said so.

“Part of the development of this team is we have to adapt to different styles of play,” he said. “Oklahoma City was crush it in, keep everybody in, make sure (Russell) Westbrook saw bodies. These last two teams, it was get out at the three-point line and we are not doing it.”

You can almost see how something like this could happen. All season the Raptors have been drilled on the need to improve their help defence. It was deplorable last year. And against the Thunder in an upset, they did that extremely well. Westbrook would get by the first line of defence only to see the bigs sliding over and putting up a second wall.

Unfortunately the next team on the schedule, the next three in fact including Wednesday’s second game with the Knicks in four nights, required and requires a different tact, one that insists on defenders sticking with their guys and resisting the urge to leave and help a teammate on another guy.

Leave your man to help on another and as the Pacers proved, you open yourself up to a barrage of open three pointers. It was a death warrant against the Pacers on Monday night and will be again against the Knicks if the Raptors don’t start listening.

The problem for the Raptors is it’s a 180 degrees away from what they did so successfully on Friday night. It’s human nature to stick with what worked, but not if you realize the circumstances have changed.

Apparently, the Raptors did not or were just too stubborn to admit change was necessary.

Triano and his coaching staff certainly realized it. The players admitted as much after the game.

“They’re putting it point blank on the board and we’re just not executing it right now,” newcomer Jerryd Bayless said. “It’s something we have to get better at. We can’t use the excuse that we’re young, we just have to figure it out.”

Triano was asked after the game if he was considering re-thinking his plan for an off-day on Tuesday, after playing back-to-backs and scheduling a practice?

“I’m not sure if we have a facility right now,” Triano said.

Outside of maybe Los Angeles finding a practice facility on short notice on the road in New York — maybe the toughest in the league — it was no surprise the team did wind up getting the day off.

But rest assured, the Raptors will be hearing a familiar lesson one more time before they tip-off against the Knicks.

Maybe this time, they will actually learn it.


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