Tonight, the Toronto Raptors fell to the Miami Heat for the second time this month, losing 90-83. For the most part the loss to the champs was anticipated by many, but the Raptors could have played better, nonetheless. After this loss, Toronto still leads the Atlantic Division with a 6-9 record on the year.
Man, that was a stinker on the offensive side of the ball. The Raptors shot 38% from the field against the champs tonight, so this one was pretty ugly. Furthermore, Toronto was pitiful from beyond the arc versus Miami, only hitting 8 of their 30 three point attempts. With a very slim margin of error, the Raptors were not able to do what it took to come away with a win tonight— the offense was nowhere close to how well it had to have played versus LeBron James and company. 17 turnovers and 16 assists is not a recipe for success against any team in this league, so the game’s result should not come as much of a surprise.
Toronto’s free-throws were not falling tonight either. The Raptors were down 74-54 with 5 minutes to go in the third quarter, but were able to go a huge run, cutting Miami’s lead down substantially. In the fourth quarter, Toronto made this one close, but missed free-throws were what led to the team coming up short. In what turned out to be a 7 point loss, it definitely would have helped Toronto’s cause if they had shot better than 19 for 32 (59.4%) from the free-throw line in this game. DeMar DeRozan continued his scoring tear, dropping 25 points on 10 of 20 shooting against the red-hot Heat, and Rudy Gay chipped in with 21 (on 9 of 21 shooting), but these efforts were not enough for the Raptors to walk away with a huge upset.
Against a team driven by its star power, it’s difficult to be too angry with the Raptors effort tonight. Other than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, no Miami Heat player was successful in scoring in double digits. Wade and James combined for 49 of the Heat’s 90 points hitting 19 of 33 shots. Limiting the defending NBA champions to 90 points is no easy task, so Toronto’s defensive efforts must be commended. Miami’s 9 for 22 from three was to be expected, but what really won them the game was their ability to counter Toronto’s runs that started momentum shifts. Whenever it seemed as if the Raptors were knocking on the door, the Heat made big shots that were generated from solid offensive execution.
Obviously, the Achilles heel of the Miami Heat roster is the lack of rebounding and size they possess. The Raptors took advantage of this matchup and pulled down 43 boards versus Miami, and only limited the Heat to 3 offensive rebounds. Why Dwane Casey did not utilize Jonas Valanciunas for more than 18 minutes in tonight’s game is beyond me. We witnessed coach Casey’s neglect of the noticeable size advantage for the second time against the Miami Heat this year. At least Tyler Hansbrough‘s effort was a joy to watch in this game, as he pulled down 12 rebounds. Rudy Gay also came away with another double digit rebounding effort, grabbing 11 in the loss.
I’ve enjoyed watching this guy play recently. For the past while, he’s actually been quite efficient with his shots. He only hit 2 of his 7 three point attempts, but the offensive polish still reared its head versus a defensively-elite team in the Miami Heat. I’m hoping that DeRozan continues to prove people wrong this season.