The Toronto Raptors traveled to Miami hoping to end the series and advance to their first conference final. Unfortunately, tonight it wasn’t to be as the Miami Heat took a 103-91 win.
The Raptors found themselves down by just one to end the first quarter but an 11-6 run to begin the second combined with a strong Miami finish late in the half saw the Heat lead by 9. Both Kyle Lowry and to an extent DeMar DeRozan eventually showed up in the third but Miami Heat led by Goran Dragic held strong and lead by 10 heading into the final quarter. The Raptors stuck around and at one stage got within 6. Early in the fourth Lowry was carrying the load as he scored 10 straight Toronto points and for a little while it seemed like Lowry time might shine through brighter than ever but defensively the Raptors could not stop Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic. Toronto went on to go 5 minutes without a field goal and the game was virtually sealed when Joe Johnson made a dagger 3 with 2 minutes remaining followed by a DeRozan travel.
Although not quite the same this series like the first round, this is eerily similar to the one a few years ago against Brooklyn. Raptors fans can take solace for now knowing the Raptors have not lost back to back games so far this post season. Game 7 is Sunday at the Air Canada Centre with a nation set to ride every possession. On to the report card.
The team seemed over reliant on Kyle Lowry who had a huge 36 points. While DeRozan chipped in with 23, he wasn’t able to come through in the clutch. Lowry made 12-27 and was 3-5 from range but received little support. The reserves, who have been pivotal this post season, combined for just 15 compared to Miami’s bench which scored 24. Nobody else in the starting line up scored double figures as Jonas Valanciunas was sourly missed in the paint. A telling statistic in regards to sharing the basketball is that there was just 10 overall assists for Toronto and Lowry had the most with 3. Shooting from beyond the arc was way down as the team went 25% overall and it will always be difficult to win a playoff game when field goals are at 41% for the night. It has been a low scoring series and tonight the Raptors gave little support to an over worked Lowry.
The Raptors gave up 100+ points for just the second time this series and the frustration that many fans likely felt at not being able to get a critical stop would have been off the charts. Every comeback and run that Toronto had the Miami Heat (and the refs) had an answer for. Goran Dragic finished with 30 points and was at times unstoppable while Wade found his game and got going late on as the Heat backcourt combined for 52. From range Miami finally found their touch, shooting 35%. A Miami team fighting for their lives against a Raptors side that rarely lifted from first gear was the difference tonight. The Raptors will need to play some of the defense they did during the regular season to close out this series in the deciding game.
As a team Toronto outrebounded Miami 43-41 and Bismack Biyombo lead the game with 13 overall. The Heat played small the majority of the game, so you’d hope the discrepancy would be higher. THe Raps need to use this to their advantage next game.
Game Ball: Goran Dragic
The Miami backcourt was the major factor in tonight’s game. Dragic not only finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists but he also had a +25 impact which was easily the highest of any player. Wade’s late buckets and Johnson’s sealer showed Miami has a lot of offensive options but tonight it was the Goran Dragic show.