Buckle up, folks. The Toronto Raptors 2013-14 campaign begins tomorrow night vs the Boston Celtics.
We’ve touched just about every basis there is with regards to key factors for the upcoming season, however I would like to take a crack at some advanced stats today (kinda). If you’ve read our other stuff, you know we aren’t too big on advanced stats however this is going to be very, very bare ‘advanced’ stats.
Last season, it seemed as if the Raptors found a different way to lose every game. Down the stretch, the Raptors had the third-most losses in the league in ‘clutch’ time, which is classified as being within 5 points in the last 5 minutes of the game. In games where they were within 5 points +/- meaning they were up or down by 5 or less, they lost 29/45. The Raptors also went 9-17 in games which they were tied with 5 minutes to go. They also went 6-12 when they were either tied or down 1 with a minute left. Clearly, the Raps sucked down the stretch but you probably didn’t need stats to realize that.
The Heat won 80% of their clutch games, and San Antonio was second with 65%. The teams that were at the bottom: Orlando, Washington, Toronto, Detroit, New Orleans, Minnesota – bad teams.
Get the picture? The Raptors absolutely sucked down the stretch last season, and will need to figure out a remedy for success as virtually every playoff team had a positive clutch rating. It will start with Dwane Casey managing his rotations and timeouts properly, but it will come down to Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan closing out games starting at that 5 minute mark. Gay is known to hit big shots, and DeRozan had his fair share last year as well, but being clutch involves taking over before it gets to that ‘game-winner’ time, not just hitting a buzzer beater. The clutch numbers were more or less the same when Gay was acquired, meaning his impact was minimal.
Ultimately, closing out close games is what the season will come down to. The Raptors have the talent to hang with just about any team in the league, but when the last 5 minutes kick in and Carmelo Anthony starts to take over, the Raptors will have to respond. Play execution simply has to be better, and hopefully Dwane Casey has learned a few X’s and O’s as opposed to clearing out for DeRozan or Gay and forcing them into a tough fadeaway.
On another note, I ran into this very cool article that gives some interesting facts about players and teams around the league. It includes things such as player distribution by age, salary by size and has a bunch of other interesting data compiled. I highly recommend checking it out – click here to view the blog from Best Tickets.
Also, if you are on the fence about going to the home opener, take a look here. Ticket prices will continue to drop as the game gets closer and you can currently get in for just over $20.
Now, I have to go find something useful to do until tomorrow night.