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Post-Game 6 Breakdown: It Was Always Going Seven

Feels inevitable at this point. Still, let's take a look at what happened in Game 6.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, not such a fun Game 6. Here's a quick look at what went wrong.

Miami's Switch Everything Defence

By starting and mostly using 5 wings/guards, Miami was able to switch every screen and prevent any real breakdowns on pick and roll defence. This really bogged down the Raptors' offence. Just take a look at this series in terms of how many screen assists the Raptors were getting in each game (a screen assist is a screen set for a player who scores immediately after using the screen).

Game | Raptors Screen Assists

Game 1: 13
Game 2: 11
Game 3: 14
Game 4: 8
Game 5: 11
Game 6: 5

Game 4 was also a bit of a stinker (and you may recall the Raptors made the mistake of sitting Biyombo quite a bit late to match up with the Heat's small lineups), but Game 6 was a disaster. The Raptors need to find a consistent way to score with the Heat negating their screen actions. This is where Jonas Valanciunas is missed the most -- he's the one player who can reliably score inside without relying on screen actions, and you can be sure he'd punish the Heat on the boards for going small.

Offensive Board Work

To survive a small ball set-up from the Heat, the Raptors needed to dominate the glass.

Unfortunately, it just didn't happen. Although the Raptors predictably kept the Heat off the offensive boards (grabbing 83% of available defensive rebounds), the Heat did the same to the Raptors (81% defensive rebound rate).  This is inexcusable, with the Raptors having tall rebounders (compared to the Heat, anyway) in Biyombo, Patterson and Carroll sharing the floor for much of the game. Patterson did alright (4 offensive boards), but Biyombo grabbed a measly 3% of available offensive rebounds (1 offensive board in 33 minutes).

The defensive rebounding focus was evident, but the offence needed saving quite often and the safety net wasn't there last night.

Joseph's Worst Game in a While

Cory Joseph had just a terrible game. Missed a lot of open shots (1 for 4 on uncontested shots), only managed one assist, and was a team worst -15. He seemed to really struggle guarding Dwyane Wade.

It doesn't help that he was stuck out there with some silly lineups.

Lowry - Joseph - DeRozan - Johnson - Biyombo - 4 minutes played together, a spacing disaster, and a -66 net rating in that time (due to a hilariously and predictably awful 33 ORTG).

Lowry - Joseph - DeRozan - Ross - Patterson - another 4 minutes with this lineup, which somehow just couldn't shoot to save their lives as the game slipped away at the end. An 89 ORTG and a 31% eFG% obviously wasn't helping the cause.

Lineups aside, Joseph was just bad in this one.

Some Bright Spots

James Johnson seemed effective on Wade in this one. Surround him with shooters and the team does well. He had 4 minutes with that spacing disaster mentioned above, and a -66 net rating. The other lineup he played in was a fun Lowry-Joseph-Ross-JJ-Nogueira lineup that did well (+18 net rating). More the latter, less of the former.

Speaking of Nogueira, he was the only positive +/- player on the night, with a +10.2 net rating in 6 minutes. Considering how badly Thompson did out there (-58 on-court net rating, and zeroes across the board in 4 minutes), perhaps we see more of Nogueira. Important to use him in PnR -- having a big that can catch an alley-oop will help break down that switch-everything defence.

Finally, Lowry was great once again. 36 points on 27 shots, 3 for 5 from long range, 10 FTA's, 4 rebounds, 3 assists.

Unfortunately, he was not the on-court impact player he's been of late, going -5 on the night. Some of that is how ineffective the bench units he played with were. Specifically, the Lowry-Joseph-Ross-Patterson-Biyombo super lineup only got one minute together this game.


Ultimately what beat the Raptors was their defence. A defensive rating of 111 in a playoff game is unacceptable. And it wasn't a lineup or matchup issue for most of the game. Winslow at C certainly wasn't an adjustment that helped the Heat score more. The perimeter defence just wasn't there for the Raptors.

Here's hoping a slightly healther Carroll, a Cory Joseph who bounces back from a bad performance, and a Lowry unlimited by foul trouble, the defence can return to the form the Raptors have shown all playoffs long, and which kept them alive when the offence sputtered.