Watch the Tape will teach you absolutely nothing about basketball, how to watch it better, or how it’s properly played. It WILL take you on a tour of some of the finest, and most random Raptors-related (and sometimes adjacent) material on the net.
The Raptors are 10-1 and, despite a modest injury to Kawhi Leonard and a less modest one to Norman Powell, look invincible. They just beat up on the Utah Jazz last night minus both players, on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, despite falling into an early turnover-filled hole. They’re now 3-0 on their current west coast road trip. The entire experience has been, in short, astounding.
But we need to check in on C.J. Miles.
A few weeks ago, we reflected on what it meant for Miles, the Raptors’ premier deep-range gunner, to sign an endorsement deal with the internet company GoDaddy. It meant a supplementary windfall for him, which, sure, is good; but it also tempted forces beyond all of our abilities to comprehend.
This is some Possession-level stuff now, as we watch the latest snippet of footage, care of concerned Curse Watcher, William Lou.
these are the consequences of signing with godaddy pic.twitter.com/7GH4iax2wk— William Lou (@william_lou) November 6, 2018
In these 19 seconds, we see the gaping chasm at the heart of the GoDaddy Curse. It is awesome and terrifying to behold. Consider the following:
0:01-0:03: The important thing to note here, at the outset, is Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play man, noting that Toronto is about to go 3-0 on this trip (meaning the 4-game west coast swing). There are still four plus minutes to go in the game — this is peak salami-and-cheese, is my point. The Raptors are that confident.
0:04-0:05: What sets this whole sequence up is a miss from OG Anunoby at the rim, and then (as Devlin notes) a scramble from little used big man Greg Monroe. He does not manage to corral the ball, but the Jazz’s Georges Niang throws it back out to mid-court while falling out of bounds right into the hands of Miles. Well, sort of — there’s a scramble there too, Miles comes up with it, and looks semi-open (Alec Burks stumbles near him but the way in front is clear).
0:06: Miles appears for a split nano-second to be ready to shoot. I digress.
A shooter’s percentages on any given night are bound to suffer from the law of averages in some way. Go 3-of-4 one night, then maybe 1-of-5 the next. It still equals 4-of-9 overall, which is, as math will tell you, 44 percent and quite good as far as long range shooting goes in the NBA. Miles is a career 36 percent shooter from 3-point range, which puts him firmly in the “quite good” category — especially when you consider he’s put up 4.1 attempts per game over his entire career (and five or more over the past four seasons).
Last season Miles shot 36 percent (right on target) on a whopping 6.5 attempts per game in just 19.1 minutes. He was on the court for Toronto to catch the ball and shoot it from beyond the arc. The Raptors needed him to do that, and to the extent that he could, Miles filled the role admirably. There are deficiencies to Miles’ game, surely, but his shooting has not been one of them.
As the law of averages suggest though, accuracy from deep can go up and down on a whim. From month to month last season, Miles’ three-point average went from as wide a range as 31.5 percent to 45.5 percent. That first number is below league average — if Miles consistently shot 31.5 percent he might not even still be in the league! — but that 45.5 percent is elite. It’s also largely impossible to shoot at such a clip for a sustained period of time (unless you’re Steph Curry).
Miles catching the ball at the top of the arc, semi-open, almost ready to shoot, with the ultra green light and all, should give the Raptors a good chance at a reasonably high-percentage shot, a decent return on their points-per-possession investment.
So, knowing all of that, let’s see what happens next.
0:07-0:09: Miles throws a pass — and, folks, it’s not a good one.
A lot of things happen here at once: Thabo Sefolosha (somehow) looms in front of Miles and with almost no effort at all bats Miles’ pass attempt (which Devlin charitably refers to as an “entry pass”) aside. The ball is scooped up by the Jazz’s Dante Exum as he capitalizes on the momentum now going the other way.
Meanwhile, Miles manages to get tangled up with the hard-charging Sefolosha. He stays on his feet, but Thabo does not.
0:10-0:11: Whistle. Foul on Miles. The Raptors remain firmly in control of this game, but the Curse sinks its icy cold talons a degree further into Miles’ psyche. This feels bad.
0:12-0:15: Look at this. Look at Miles here. Palms raised to the heavens, shoulders shrugged and then slumped. His head hanging down. This is a defeated man, a man whose livelihood, whose very sense of self, hangs in the balance. Miles is shooting 26 percent from three so far this season (the lowest that mark has been for him in a decade), his minutes are down to 15.5 per game, he can’t really play defense, his place in the Raptors’ rotation appears tenuous at times — even with those aforementioned injuries to Kawhi and Norm. See what agony the GoDaddy Curse hath wrought.
(But also, folks, you really hate to see it.)
0:16-0:19: If nothing else these final three seconds confirm something else about Miles, something good and valuable, something worth protecting: his smile.
Yes, despite getting off to a horrid start, Miles can still chuckle to himself and smile and march down to the other end of the court to take his place adjacent to the paint for Thabo’s free throw attempts. That’s the way it goes sometimes, he seems to be saying to himself. That’s basketball. At least Toronto won.
But also, that’s the GoDaddy Curse. We shall continue to monitor this situation at it happens.