The Toronto Raptors did it. They made it past the second round, they overcame a strong and well supported Miami team, they made their first conference final in franchise history, and they continue to make history in what is now undeniably their greatest season. These are my grades for some of the members of the history making, curse breaking Toronto Raptors based solely on their performance throughout the second round series against the Miami Heat.
DeMar DeRozan- 7/10
DeRozan was under huge pressure this series and in the end he managed to deliver. We saw two sides of DeMar DeRozan this series – there was the volume shooting, chance missing, not getting it done player and then there was the take over, angry faced, big name all-star we all love. He averaged 22 points for the series and in game 7 poured 28, but he also only shot at .500 or more from the field once this series (game 5). In the game 4 loss he put in just 9 points and was 4-17 from the field as well as 1-4 from the line. He averaged just .388 from the field and .250 from 3 overall. However the pivotal game 5 was his night with 34 points on 11-22 field shooting as well as making every single one of his 11 free throws. He was certainly the biggest factor in game 5 and despite some mishaps along the way.
Kyle Lowry- 9/10
The city of Toronto, the country of Canada, and believe it or not, people all over the globe asked for more from the back court all stars. Kyle Lowry answered the call. #Lowrytime was more than once the deciding factor in this series. To put things into perspective, game 7 he had 35 points, was .550 from the field, .714 from 3 (5-7) and 8-11 at the line. He had 9 assists and 4 steals. Through the series he averaged 23.4 and 3 times he scored over 30 points (game 3, 6 and 7). He does not get a 10 as he averaged 3.1 turnovers for the series and in game 1 scored just 7 points while shooting 3-13 from the field. With that said, it’s clear that Kyle Lowry is back.
Bismack Biyombo- 7.5/10
Biyombo was required to fill the starting center role after Jonas Valanciunas went down in game 3. He played his role well. In games 4, 6 and 7 he had double doubles in points and rebounds, including 16 boards in the pivotal final game. He averaged .652 from the field and if not for a poor game 6 when he went 1-4 it could have been higher. In game 7 he was good at getting to the line but shot poorly, as he went 5-12. Defensively he managed 1.4 blocks per game which is up from the Pacer series and about equal with the regular season. It is hard to remember Biyombo is only 23 and it can’t be easy coming into a playoff series replacing a guy like Jonas Valanciunas. He did his job admirably in a tough series and his rebounds particularly proved vital.
Due to playing less then half the games for the series it is hard to give Jonas Valanciunas an overall rating for the series, however in the 3 games that he played he was monstrous. Across just the 3 games he played he averaged 13.3 and managed a double double in every game. Game 2 was arguably his best performance (although he did put in 24 in game 1) coming up with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 1 block. He also shot .768 from the field. Remember, this was a game the Raptors simply had to win as was game 2 against the Pacers. In both instances Jonas Valanciunas was the hero and if not for his injury may have been the MVP of the series. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.
DeMarre Carroll- 8.5/10
DeMarre Carroll was the Raptors top scorer in the must win game 2 in which he put in a very important 21 points. In that game he was .538 from the field and 3-6 from 3, while adding 4 steals. In game 7 his shooting was near perfect, 4-5 from the field (.800), 2-2 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the line which added up to 14 points. He also pulled in 5 rebounds to go with 2 assists. Carroll is not the star of this team but he is damn good and in the clutch moments of this series he was always there. Defensively, he was elite and made everyone he guarded work hard for their buckets. He will be vital to shutting down LeBron James in the conference finals.
Patrick Patterson had an up and down series. His numbers agree with that, compared to the Pacers series he experienced drops in field goal percentages, points, assists, and even more so in 3 point shooting which was down to just .143 in this series. In the pivotal game 7 Patterson shot poorly from the field at 2-8 and was an ugly 0-4 from 3 but he went 7-7 from the free throw line and his 11 rebounds combined with 11 points got him an important double double. It is not all about numbers though. Against Indiana Patterson was required, due to at times the lowered productivity of Lowry and DeRozan, to step up and when called upon he did. This series both Lowry and DeRozan were better overall and therefore the need for Patterson to be great was less. Defensively, he did a solid job against the versatile Heat.
Corey Joseph- 6.5/10
Cory Joseph did not have as good of a series as he did against Indiana but he still played his role and was certainly very valuable. Like Patrick Patterson, this time the Raptors could afford him to be less effective offensively. His field goal shooting was down to .400 and he was 0-3 for the series from beyond the arc. In game 4 he had an attempt at taking what would have been a game winner with the last possession of a tied game. Lowry had fouled out and DeRozan was not having the best of nights so the responsibility was passed to Joseph who has done the job before (@ Washington early this season). All in all Joseph possibly could have had a better series offensively, but defensively he was composed and was a steady force for the Raps.
Terrence’s Ross’ numbers were back at around what they were during the regular season and he had some good stand out moments which often came in the form of highlight reel dunks. His 19 points in game 1 was the best of the bench players and he shot at .600 from the field in game 7 as well as 2-4 from range. He averaged 9.6 points a game which is up from the Pacers series and just slightly less than the regular season. As we have seen with Ross, he has a lot of potential, and the Raptors will certainly need his 3 ball to be working against the Cavs.
Norman Powell, James Johnson and Luis Scola have all been important to the success of this team, however they did not play enough minutes during the series to warrant a rating. These 3 have all had some stand out moments but none came in this series. Scola has experienced a huge decline in minutes compared to the regular season. Powell was big in the Pacers series but was almost a non factor this time round and James Johnson received zero game time in the 1st round but got some minutes in games 2,6, and 7. Hopefully the three of them get a chance and are at their best during the next round.
It was a very hard fought series and Miami proved what a tough team they are. Like the Raptors they also experienced an injury to their big man in Hassan Whiteside. There was no Paul George this time round but Toronto still came up against a resurrected Dwyane Wade. Goran Dragic also proved to be a handful especially in game 6 as he was key to the Heat offence and both Joe Johnson and Luol Deng had some big moments that proved difficult to handle. In the end, thankfully the Raptors proved to be the better team. On to Cleveland.