Case of the Yips?

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Raptors need to Loosen Up for Game 2

Why Can’t the Toronto Raptors Ever Win Game One?

The 2016 World Series featured one of the most compelling matchups in quite some time.

Two cursed franchises, marred in never-ending losing and helplessness were both on the pinnacle of accomplishing something special. The eventual winners were the Chicago Cubs who erased a winless drought that spanned 108-years. One of the most interesting stories surroundings the Cubs championship team was one of their ace pitcher, Jon Lester. For as good as Lester is on the mound, a guy who has won World Series rings in the past and has virtually done it all in the game of baseball, he cannot do one single thing – throw the ball to first.

The case of the yips has been a constant issue for Lester. The runner at first can stand half way between second and first base, but Lester would never throw over.

What relevance does this story have to do with the Raptors? What if I was to say that the Raptors have that same exact case of the yips?

With 97-83 Game 1 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors have now conceded nine straight series opening games and six straight with the core trio of Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry leading the club.

It may be more of a mental thing than anything else at this point. There really is no other explanation as to how this losing streak is still continuing.

“I have no clue,” DeRozan said post game. “If I had the answer then maybe we would have pulled it out tonight. But it’s something now we’re not unfamiliar with, being at this point. It’s never ideal, but we’ve got to bounce back and understand we make it hard on ourselves to come back and fight back even harder. But it’s on us. We don’t have no excuse.”

After shooting 50% from the field in the first half, the Raptors shot a brutal 20% from the field in half number deux.

Now the Raptors are by far the more talented team. They have been on this stage before and know what it takes to win here. The Bucks on the other hand are young and are playing with house money. It was easy to tell which team was feeling the pressure on Saturday night in the Air Canada Centre. The Bucks are just not at that stage where they can compete yet, the Raptors believe that they are, as they should.

“You have to give them credit. They did a good job defensively, (but) we have to figure out how to get a better rhythm and pace, spacing,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Once the ball gets in the half-court, we have to get better movement, exchanges, don’t stand there and help their defence. All that led to tough shots, challenge shots.”

That being said, there is no good defense in the world that can force a professional NBA basketball team to shoot 20% from the field in an entire half. The Bucks out-hustled the Raptors and got after the loose balls, but 20%? Really?

DeRozan was explosive in the first half, dropping 18-points while attacking the heart of the Bucks defense at will. He was 1-for-8 in the second half. As for fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry, he shot 2-for-11, while missing all six of his shots from long range – a strange performance for one of the top three-point shooters in the league.

The Raptors evidently were feeling the pressure, taking ill-advised shot and playing tight all night long, especially the second half. Again, good defense from an inferior team cannot be the only reason a far more talented team shoots 20% from the field in an entire half.

Is it time to panic? A playoff loss and losing home court advantage may often mean the sky is falling, but in the Raptors’ case, they should be fine. The key is not to do x, y, and z better. The Raptors only gave up 97-points all the while Giannis Antetokounmpo had a big 28-point night. The Raptors can beat the Bucks even if Giannis explodes simply because the Bucks do not have the offensive firepower to match that of the Raptors.

So what is the one thing the Raptors have to do in Game 2? It’s really quite simple…

Stay loose.

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