Raptors have one key adjustment to make: Hit your open looks

LeBron James scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors in Game 1.

Falling 116-105 (a score that looks a lot better than reality) to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1, it’s clear the Toronto Raptors need to make an adjustment or two.

But what?

Thinking back on Monday, two points immediately come to mind: Turnovers and the amount of missed open shots.

The turnover issue is less of a problem than the optics of Game 1 would suggest. The 12 giveaways the Raptors committed is right in line with the 12.7 per game they averaged in the regular season — fourth best in the league. The 18 points they surrendered to the Cavaliers off those turnovers were a little higher than the 14.6 per game Cleveland averaged off turnovers this season.

So while it may have appeared turnovers were a big issue — and this isn’t to say limiting turnovers is ever a bad thing – they weren’t the main factor in the Raptors’ downfall.

The open misses, though? That’s another story altogether.

It’s hard to put into words just how much those bricks cost them, so let’s go to the numbers instead.

Using the oh-so-useful NBA.com play-by-play tool we were able to isolate 19 shots that we’d define as either wide open or open enough to believe the shot should’ve gone down — and in the case of Patrick Patterson, travelling with no one around you while preparing to take a three.

These 19 shots were taken from the first three quarters only as the fourth quarter was, essentially, 12 minutes of garbage time. Surprise, surprise: The fourth was the Raptors’ best period in Game 1.

Tallying up the 19 shots, 11 were threes while the other eight were mostly mid-range jumpers thrown in with the occasional floater and runner in the lane. In total, had the Raptors made all 19 of these field goals, they would’ve scored 49 points and held a 123–96 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Of course, to think the Raptors would hit all 19 of those shots is quite a stretch, so let’s inject a little realism into this little experiment.

Instead of assuming the Raptors would’ve shot 100 per cent on those 19 open looks, we attempted to normalize the numbers using rough estimates based on regular-season shooting percentages. The results, as inexact as our calculations may be, are rather eye-opening.

Had the Raptors shot the ball the way they did in the regular season, they would’ve hit approximately eight of those 19 shots, including four of 11 from deep, for 20 points. That means they would’ve finished the third quarter down only two points, 96–94, as opposed to 22.

Keep in mind, this test doesn’t take into consideration game context, but the sheer amount the Raptors left on the table is still stunning, to say the least.

So, if the Raptors are searching for any adjustments they should look to make for Game 2 it’s simple, really: Make your clean looks count, fellas.

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