Raptors’ Achiuwa, Watanabe showing improvement on defensive end

Will Lou was joined by Vivek Jacob to chat about Precious Achiuwa and Yuta Watanabe’s contributions to the team’s improving defence on the Raptors Show.

Over the past three games, the Toronto Raptors have shown the defensive prowess of their pre-West Coast road trip selves, holding opponents to under 100 points in each of those contests.

Raptors.com contributor Vivek Jacob joined the latest edition of The Raptors Show With Will Lou to discuss how Toronto has turned it around defensively and the under-the-radar contributors to that change.

“I think the main thing for me is the dribble penetration that they’ve been able to contain to a higher degree. I think when you look at guarding out on the perimeter there were way too many blow-bys and that forces mistimed rotations, bad communication, all of those types of things,” Jacob said on Wednesday.

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Sure, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have all contributed their fair share on the defensive end of the floor, but who else is responsible for this uptick in efficiency?

“I honestly want to give some credit to Precious Achiuwa because he has shown serious improvement on that end of the floor, especially using his best strengths on the perimeter. Again, we talk about containing dribble penetration, when he’s getting switched out, he’s not getting lost, he’s able to direct traffic in a way that helps the defence,” Jacob said.

After missing the first 19 games of the season with a calf injury, fan favourite and ramen enthusiast Yuta Watanabe is making his presence felt since his return to the lineup.

“Yuta is great. In terms of a role player knowing exactly what he brings to the table and fitting into what the Raptors do as a team, I think he is the perfect fit,” Jacob said.

“Defensively, again we talk about the switch-ability. He is someone right off the bat, he comes in you put him out on the perimeter he’s able to contain, he’s able to contest, he’s able to rotate, switch. Again, another big thing that we haven’t talked about is being able to close out properly, he’s someone who closes out, but doesn’t get lost in the play.”

Watch the full conversation about how Toronto has improved defensively on The Raptors Show with Will Lou, which can now be streamed live daily on Sportsnet’s YouTube channel. A replay of Wednesday’s episode can be found below.

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