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OKLAHOMA CITY—There are moments when the Raptor offence can look a bit chaotic, with players racing hither and yon, shots going up from every corner of the offence and seemingly no clear pattern to what they’re trying to accomplish.
“Perfect,” coach Dwane Casey has to be thinking. “We’ve got them right where we want them.”
The Raptors have been trying to juice their offence since training camp began more than a month ago. They want pace and speed and quick, good shots, and if it takes a bit of improvisation to get it, so be it.
“The offence we’re running is more of a random-type offence where it’s in flow, the push is more random, there’s a lot of different things guys can do,” Casey said before the Raptors faced the Oklahoma City Thunder here Tuesday night. “There’s a method to the madness.”
The beneficiaries to the desire for speed and quick shots would be guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who have been excellent through the infancy of the season. Lowry, in particular, has taken to the shift like a duck to water, averaging more than 23 points and seven assists in the season’s first three games.
Casey so far has let them run and the Raptors averaged almost 98 points a game in their first three outings, up eight points from their 2011-12 total.
But giving up that control takes self-control.
What the free-flowing, read-and-react style does is not allow defences to get set on every possession. The Raptors still run a fair amount of halfcourt offence because they’ve been smart enough often enough not to force too many quick shots, but as they get more comfortable with on-the-fly decision-making, there may be even less structure to what they do.
“The hardest thing to do in the NBA is to guard random play and that’s why we want to be unpredictable,” said the coach. “So Kyle knows the offence, he knows what we should be doing, Jose (Calderon) knows it, so they have the freedom to do three or four different things within the offence.
And it’s not going to change as long as it remains successful. There are sure to be a lot of confounding possessions where quick shots look like terrible shots but, as Casey has said since camp began, it’s a learning process.
“Bottom line is keeping that ball moving, keep the floor spaced properly more than saying, ‘I’ve got to get this guy a shot, I’ve got to get this guy a shot,’” he said. “As long as we’re getting quality looks as a team, we don’t want to slow down and try to dictate where the ball is going.”