The Toronto Raptors under head coach Nick Nurse have always been a team that refuses to get beat by superstars.
Often times the NBA is a pick your poison kind of league. Teams can either let opposing superstars get their points and hope to hold down everyone else or they can opt to pay all their attention to those truly elite players and let everyone else take lightly contested shots. Nurse has traditionally preferred to go with the latter approach, famously deploying the box-and-one to stop superstars or blitzing and doubling the league's best whenever possible.
Tuesday night's treatment of Kevin Durant was no different. Whenever the former MVP got the ball there seemed to be a Raptors player flying over to help disrupt him.
"Toronto did a good job of chucking up the game," Durant said. "Every time I touched the ball in my spots they'd come to double, so I have to just be patient and find the right pass."
At this point, the Raptors have a reputation for that kind of aggressive defence. They'll do whatever it takes to swarm the superstars even if it means giving up open or lightly contested shots to lesser players.
"They scramble incredibly well," Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said. "They speed you up and make you play at a pace just north of where you normally play at."
Last season the Raptors scrambled very well. They ranked second in the NBA in "Wide Open" 3-point shots but held opponents to just shot 35.4% on those shots, the lowest in the league, per NBA Stats. This year, however, that luck and the threat of a shot contest has seemed to disappear. The Raptors are still giving up plenty of "Wide Open" 3-pointers this year, the sixth-most in the league, but their opponents are shooting 42.2% on those shots, the second-most in the league, according to NBA Stats.
Considering all that's happened this year for the Raptors it shouldn't be too surprising that they haven't had much shooting luck. Next year things may look different. While Nurse won't be changing his defensive schemes too much, those shooting percentages should come down a little bit and if those lesser players aren't making it rain from 3-point range next season, Toronto should be right back in the playoff.