The Toronto Raptors dropped game 1 against the Miami Heat on Tuesday after an insane half-court buzzer-beating heave from Kyle Lowry, sending the game to overtime. The heroic efforts were eventually useless after a mini-run early led by Dwyane Wade.
In Game 1, the Raptors led for the majority of the game until late third quarter and into the fourth. They failed to capitalize on offensive opportunities, struggled to rotate to open shooters — basically, Luol Deng — and once again, dealt with issues defending dribble penetration.
However, the main worry for the Raptors was Lowry’s shooting struggles carrying over into the second round. He not only shot the ball poorly, but likely had one of his worst games ever as a Raptor. Not exactly a great time for him to be struggling, especially on the opening game of a round they have not reached in 15 years.
- Physical Play
The Raptors were the ones handing out physical play early in the game, hence Hassan Whiteside‘s struggles out of the gate and Joe Johnson‘s ineffectiveness for the most part of the game. For some reason, they let up, which led to more opportunities for the Heat in the paint. Raps have to be the more physical team in order to establish their presence on the inside.
2. Feed DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan was on a tear in game 1 — when he wasn’t asked to isolate the ball. Casey was great running out-of-timeout plays for DeRozan, having him curl off screens, cut without the ball and hand-offs towards the rim. Feed DeRozan, however feed him through play-calls and less with the ball; that’ll maximize his effectiveness and efficiency offensively. He’s shown that the Heat don’t have a threat to shut him down in comparison to Paul George in the previous round.
The offence wavered down the stretch of the game, mainly during late third quarter and into the fourth. Coach Dwane Casey and the team had opted to milk the clock with a streak of several possessions running a pick-and-roll between Cory Joseph and Jonas Valanciunas late in the clock. It proved to be a terrible recipe, which forced either live-ball turnovers or absolutely horrendous shot attempts that needed prayers to go in. Coaching staff must emphasize the use of player movement and passing, because the second half offence was a completely different story. With Whiteside on the inside and the amount of PNR’s they ran down the stretch, it’s certain the Heat will have figured that out — gotta go with something else, Casey.
X-Factor: Kyle Lowry
This series lives and dies with Kyle Lowry. To say that Lowry has to step up, to say that the Raptors need Lowry are understatements. Game 1 was rock-bottom for him in his time as a Raptor. Lowry needs to shoot better, yes, however, looking at the Pacers series he was very effective without really being a threat to score the basketball.
We’ve seen from game 1 of the second round that Dragic is nowhere near the defensive player George Hill was. Offensively, he’s got an easier time, however, defensively is also where he has to pick it up, after Dragic lit him for 26 points, getting to wherever he wanted on the court.
We need you Kyle, sincerely, all Toronto Raptors fans across the country.