What's changed with the Raptors' halfcourt offence

On the latest episode of "Strictly Hoops," C.J. Miles and Amit Mann analyze how the Raptors have changed their halfcourt offence and why it's sustainable. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast or watch on YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Obviously, the opponent has to be kept in mind. But their process in their halfcourt offense is very different. Just a few numbers, because I think numbers are relevant with what I'm talking about here, is if you look at the past three games versus the rest of the regular season, in terms of the Raptors' per game averages, they're averaging like-- I don't know-- another 40 touches per game.

Secondary assists are way up. Passes made per game are way up. Their effective field goal percentage is way up. Their offensive rating is way up. Their points per 100 halfcourt plays is up from 91.8 per 112.1. That is a considerable increase. And even if you just look at the product itself, it's very different. What are you seeing?

CJ MILES: I don't even have the right-- like, I was trying to-- because I was trying to put together everything you were saying. I don't even have the right answer for it right now. I just think it's just-- the offense, it goes-- so there's just these spaces where--


CJ MILES: --they just can't-- it seems like they don't remember.

AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.

CJ MILES: Like, there's these lulls, and there's these times-- or when you have guys that are talented, are growing into a talented space where they do things by themselves, you kind of want to give them that because there's a trust in that, too.

So you want to get out of Pascal's way. You want to get out of Gary's way. You want to get out of Fred's way, even OG's way when he's in certain things. And when you get to standing and watching guys like that and start depending on just that, it's hard.

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

CJ MILES: It's hard no matter-- and we'll have these other times where it's popping around. We're getting up and down. There's stops happening. There's three, four passes for an open shot, backdoor cuts, these things with this energy, right? And that comes from everybody feeling like they're in a space where I'm going to get mine without having to do all that work. I feel it. The pace is so high. There's so many chances.


CJ MILES: Like, everybody's getting 18 shots. And guys coming off the bench are getting 12, 13 shots.


CJ MILES: If you can play with that type of pace, then we don't have to worry about people trusting and buying in all the time.


CJ MILES: Everybody's getting their just due. There's so much food.


CJ MILES: Everybody's gonna eat.

AMIT MANN: It's Thanksgiving.

CJ MILES: Yeah. Man, stuffing all year.


AMIT MANN: Well, that's what the great Kevin Durant once said, is I'm not sure why we don't eat stuffing all year. And I agree. But you look at that Warriors team with Kevin Durant, and what was so beautiful about them is obviously the talent, but they were so unselfish. And sometimes it was Klay going off for 35. It was Steph on another night going for 40. And then it was KD doing 50 sometimes, right?

And now, the Raptors obviously aren't the same kind of thing. But when everybody is touching the ball and everyone feels involved-- and that is happening through not holding onto the ball so much. You're moving without the ball, backdoor cuts. There's more off-ball screening. There's on-ball screening.

When all these things are happening, everyone's involved. And I mean, I want to ask you, do you not think that when it comes to shot-making, a player is more likely to make shots if they're touching the ball three, four times in a possession versus one? Just touching the ball.

CJ MILES: No, I think being involved in a play definitely helps you find a rhythm.


CJ MILES: Being-- more movement and more things that get the ball just moving, and getting to be able to touch it, it feel like, even you're not scoring on a possession, you still had a part in it.

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

CJ MILES: You start to feel the spacing. You start to feel, OK, he just got a backdoor cut because I did this. If he helps on a pick and roll, I know I can raise here. The more I'm involved in it, the more I can see opportunities that don't demand me stopping the ball.


CJ MILES: And then on a side note, with a guy who does get it going, it's the exact opposite. You don't see that enough. A guy gets it going, we need to do whatever we can do-- everybody's got to recognize that.

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

CJ MILES: So now, that's another reason why that guy might start to feel like he's demanding shots or stopping the ball. Because he made two of his last three, and nobody tried to make an effort to get him-- you know what I mean? I feel like I got it going.

Not to make this a Warriors thing, but the Warriors, they're the best team I ever seen at doing that. A guy's got it going, they will exhaust every option to get that guy the ball on a possession.


CJ MILES: Guys will pass up shots to get that guy the ball. And if he misses one, they'll get him another one just to make sure that it was just a-- you know what I mean?

AMIT MANN: Yeah, 'cause they got flamethrowers. They got flamethrowers.

CJ MILES: This is also true. This is true. But I think there's a confidence that you build in your teammate by doing that.

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

CJ MILES: There's a trust that I'm building. Like, nah, I'm Steph Curry, but you got it going.


CJ MILES: I recognize that. I'm Fred VanVleet. You've got it going. I recognize that. I'm going to get you the ball as many times as I can in that stretch because that's the best play for us to win the game.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, it does seem like there's just a lot more continuity. And they're playing as a unit. It seems like there is an actual identity now. Before, there was an identity, but it was just isolation basketball. And there was so many players just standing there. You're not seeing a lot of player movement.

And now, what I actually love most about this is that when you look at their possessions, the paint-- the paint, everything around the restricted area, is wide open. There's no players standing there. And the ways in which they're clearing sides, and getting players moving into space, and then orchestrating offense, that's where it's really, really nice to see, is-- that's where the continuity comes, the cohesion. It seems like there is an identity and a style of play forming with the Raptors. And it's been happening pretty quickly here.

Because even, like, two weeks ago, we weren't seeing them doing what they're doing now. I mentioned the stats that I mentioned earlier. They weren't playing like this. And it seems like there has been just a change in the formula of their offense. I don't think the players in the starting lineup-- I don't think they're selfish players. That's what was so puzzling about all this. Because even last season--

CJ MILES: Yeah, it's weird.

AMIT MANN: --they didn't have a halfcourt offense. But it was better than this. And so I'm like, what is going on here? And I've talked about it. I'm like, I wonder if it's just scheme, their actions, their sets. I think there's-- maybe they're just not being utilized properly.

And maybe that is what we're seeing now, is that they're all being involved more. They're all willing, capable screeners. And this is the product of it. I love seeing Gary Trent, Jr. do backdoor cuts. He did two last night. Scottie Barnes found him on both occasions. And when you and I talked about how far the Raptors from the Boston Celtics halfcourt offense-- and you were like, it's not much. And I think this is what we're seeing now. Like, it isn't a lot you got to do.

It's process, it's doing things with purpose, and then just being creative. And a lot of these things, you can talk about it from a coaching staff standpoint. And you tell the players at halftime, and you can talk to them on the bench and before games. But sometimes, it is just on the player to go out and do them. And it seems like there is a bit more autonomy for them to make a backdoor cut, right, for Gary Trent, Jr., where he's been able to get a few buckets out of it.

CJ MILES: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is-- I don't think there's-- we talk about the iso offense and guys being in these positions. I don't think that-- like you said, those guys are not selfish, which is weird. Even when I got there, there was a big problem with it. They hated-- people were mad about-- I shouldn't say, people. But we weren't producing more with the way we were playing with Deebo.

He was an isolation, mid-range guy, and he was tremendous. He was great. You won a lot of games playing that way. It's proven you can be successful. But at the end of the day, it's hard for a championship offense to come out of that.


CJ MILES: It's just hard. You've seen Luka try it. You've seen James Harden try it, Deebo in Toronto. Some nights, you see Pascal do it. There's going to be nights those guys can win you games. But to win a whole-- to have a winning season, go through the playoffs, win a championship, it's hard to have an offense where guys stand around and watch that. Why would I backdoor cut in the middle of an iso if there's no other movement? I'm going to run into somebody, you know what I mean? I can't see that.


CJ MILES: And I think it's just they put themselves in a position by being so talented, too. Like, by being so good one-on-one in the mid-range, if I'm Pascal, of course I'm going to get out of Pascal's way.


CJ MILES: [AUDIO OUT] stand here and wait for somebody to go double. Like, it makes sense.

AMIT MANN: Mm. He put up a crazy efficient game last night-- 11 of 13, 35 points. And it was effortless. Dude, I mean-- you know what I mean? Not effortless, obviously.


AMIT MANN: But I tweeted about this. I would love to get to a point where Pascal Siakam is putting up 25-plus each game, and it feels quiet because everyone's eating. Everyone's getting their opportunities. He's hitting a few catch-and-shoot 3's. It's actually been pretty good the past few weeks. He was three of three last night. He's getting to the free throw line. He's just finding his spots. He's drawing so many fouls now-- maybe a little bit of respect from the officials?


AMIT MANN: I don't know.


AMIT MANN: Because he's certainly earned it. But he only had three assists last night, right? And that's not a bad thing. It's because Scottie Barnes had eight, and Fred VanVleet had nine, and OG had four. Like, these are good signs.