The Raptors are heading to the playoffs, but there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm from Toronto fans. This despite the Leafs being out of the NHL playoffs yet again. The Raptors in my opinion have one of the best offenses in the league, they rank in the top 10 in almost all the major offensive categories, 7th in FG%, 2nd in 3pt FG%, 1st in FT%, 5th in apg and a respectable 12th in ppg. Against the Bucks tonight, they showed all of their offensive abilities en route to an easy win.

What I really like about the Raptors offense is the many ways they get Chris Bosh the ball. They run alot of nice early offense sets for Bosh and because they change it up quite frequently. The effect is that opposing teams get caught off guard and have a real hard time trying to figure the Raptors out. In a span of just 3 possessions in the first quarter, you'll see them run an early post-up, then a PNR, then a drive and dump,

I just realized that I didn't include the flex screen in the clip above which is what I really wanted to show. With all the different early offense, this is my favorite. Obviously the Bucks were not prepared for it, otherwise they would've switched to cover.

Baseline Flex Screen:

You can see that it's a set play to start. Bosh is the trailer, Nesterovic is already setup on the ball-side low block,

Nesterovic comes pivots towards Bosh and comes to the weak-side block to set a flex screen for Bosh who curls around baseline side and gets a crisp pass from Calderon for the finish,


So with such a great offense, that can beat you inside, outside, off the dribble, over the top, why are the Raptors just 38-39 and 7th in the weaker Eastern conference? Well, it's all about the defense. Case in point, they let Charlie Villanueva (granted he was on a vendetta) to go off for 38 points. The Raptors cannot stop 1v1 penetration and they don't closeout shooters. The Raptors won't get by the Pistons unless they can pick up defensively. It can be done, but their attitude towards defense must change. I can see why Toronto fans are apprehensive.

A brand new early offense video worth checking out is Joe Mihalich's DVD on Practice Drills for the Fast Break. Joe Mihalich is the head coach at Niagara University. Be sure to head over to the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.