The Toronto Raptors went on to win the NBA championship this year. How they shut down Nikola Vucevic showed why they were so lethal defensively.
Orlando would have liked to have answered with Nikola Vucevic, but Toronto managed to essentially neutralize Orlando’s All-Star big man offensively.
While the goodwill from Orlando’s first playoff appearance in six years likely will not wear off anytime soon, the question does remain: What did Toronto do to Nikola Vucevic?
Last year, the big man had his best year as a pro.
He earned his first All-Star appearance while leading a young, funky roster through ups and downs that would have sunk them in years past.
His counting stats are nothing to sneeze at: 20.8 points per game, 12.0 rebounds per game, 3.8 assists per game, 1.0 steal per game, 1.1 blocks per game and 2.0 turnovers per game on 51.8 percent shooting, 36.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 78.9 percent shooting from the foul line. That translates to a 25.5 PER and true shooting percentage of 57.3, both career highs.
Then he ran into Toronto.
In the playoffs this year, Vucevic averaged 11.2 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. He hit on just 36.2 percent of his shots and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc (3 for 13).
Vucevic was no longer the efficient big man the team ran its offense through. The Raptors successfully knocked him out of the game and the series.
Published at Sat, 15 Jun 2019 17:14:06 +0000