Toronto Raptors: Three-Ball Is Their Downfall

After a 1-6 stretch the Toronto Raptors have given teams an insight into what may become their downfall. The three-ball.

The Toronto Raptors looked as though they had the Eastern Conference second seed sewn up, but in the space of 12 days, they’ve dropped to third and could soon drop further.

After their recent 1-6 run, the Raptors have momentarily relinquished the second spot in the East to the Boston Celtics, who they face Wednesday in somewhat of a grudge match.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers all but assured the top seed, the race for No. 2 is what everyone else is playing for with Wednesday’s game a possible decider.

The Raptors are in a rough patch, which is in part due to their All-Star starter, DeMar DeRozan, missing three games with an ankle injury, but that’s not their only problem.

The main culprit for their current drop in production is their three-point shooting.

The Raptors were 28-13 with their 47.2 percent shooting the fourth-best field-goal percentage in the league before Jan. 18. Since then, they are dead last, shooting 41.4 percent.

In the same period before Jan. 18, the Raptors shot 39 percent from beyond the arc, only bettered by the San Antonio Spurs. The last 12 days have been a different story though with only the Utah Jazz having shot worse than the Raptors’ 30.4 percent.

As DeRozan only shoots 25 percent on his 1.4 three-point attempts per game, his injury can’t be used as an excuse for the team’s perimeter shooting slump.

As a team, the Raptors don’t shoot a lot of threes, just 24.8 a game. But in a league where the three-point shot is only growing in importance, the Raptors can’t afford to falter on the few long-range shots they do take.

Four of the top five teams in three-point attempts per game currently occupy the top two places in each conference.

Given that, it’s no surprise that the Raptors take a huge hit in the W-L column when their 24.8 attempts per game aren’t going in at their previously second-best percentage in the league.

Until the Raptors can rein in their struggles beyond the arc — particularly DeMarre Carroll, who has shot 21 percent throughout the 1-6 stretch — they risk dropping further down the East’s pecking order.

With the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards each just one win behind the Raptors, another bad week could them risk dropping as far down as fifth.

Shooting 33 percent in losses and better than 40 percent from range in wins this season, there’s a strong correlation between their three-point percentage and victory versus defeat.

Regarded as one of the best teams in the league, the Raptors may have just given the opposition insight into what might be their downfall.

Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans gives the Raptors a chance to reignite the fire from three-point land. The Pelicans allow their opposition to hoist the second most three-point shot attempts in the league at just less than 30 a game.

It’s not quite must-win territory for the Raptors just yet, but if they want to nip their long-range shooting deficiencies in the bud, Tuesday night is a good place to start.