Pivotal is a word that is being used a lot for Toronto Raptors playoff games. But game 5 against the Miami Heat was truly a pivotal tilt, that saw the Raps take down the Miami Heat 99-91, giving them a 3-2 series lead. The Raps are in another game 6 closeout situation, with the series shifting to Miami on Friday.
The Raptors really don’t like making life easy on themselves, do they. After leading by 20 points in the 2nd quarter, the Heat closed the half on a 10-0 run, which set up an intense second half. Despite some very poor offensive execution and some questionable calls, including Dwyane Wade getting bailed out for everything, the Raps pulled out a critical victory.
DeMar DeRozan finally showed up and had an unbelievable game. He definitely took a lot of tough shots as per usual, but DeMar is a tough shot maker, and he finally clicked tonight. He poured in an efficient 34 points, and was huge down the stretch.
Something to note is that DeMarre Carroll took a hard fall and left the game with a left wrist contusion. Luol Deng also got injured earlier, because of course. Both of their statuses are unknown for Friday.
Let’s get to the report card:
At times, the offense actually looked fantastic. Free flowing offense headed by Kyle Lowry and DeRozan creating is what the Raptors used to run such a strong offense in the regular season. Tonight, Lowry was masterful, scoring 25 points and adding 6 assists. He shot an inefficient 9-25, but was timely in his buckets and gave the team the extra lift it needed at some crucial moments.
Aside from the backcourt, Bismack Biyombo and Cory Joseph combined for 19 efficient points. The rest of the team was pretty lackluster offensively. The offense went through some serious droughts at times in the 4th, with the Raps playing tentative, almost trying to just tick away the clock. 16 assists is still on the low side.
The Raptors have relied on their defense this entire playoff run, and tonight was no different. Biyombo did a good job of anchoring the paint, while the perimeter guys were energized and made life difficult for the Heat. Wade still got his 20 points, but nobody was really doing a significant amount of damage – it really felt like the Raps had this Miami team contained.
Despite having a huge size advantage, the Raps were outrebounded 44-39. Not a huge discrepancy, but when Kyle Lowry is your leading rebounder with 10, you have to ask what was going on in the frontcourt. Next game, the Raps need to take advantage of the smaller Heat.
Game Ball: DeMar DeRozan
Was there any doubt. DeRozan definitely wanted some respeck on his name, as he was the most hated man in Toronto after the game 4 loss. He banged up his thumb again in the 4th quarter, but came back into the game to ice it for the Raps. 34 points on 11/22 shooting was great to see, but the best part of it was his 11/11 shooting from the free throw line – many of those coming in the last 2 minutes.