We always knew life was going to be a little rough without Kyle Lowry. The Raptors are a capable enough team to grind out surprising wins like the ones we saw against the Wizards and the Celtics, but are also liable to drop disappointing ones like last night against the Hawks or last week to the Bucks. This is just how things are going to be for the next few weeks.
Tonight, the Raptors have the difficult task of taking on a resurgent Miami Heat team that has stormed out of nowhere to contend for a playoff spot.
Best records in the NBA since Jan. 15:— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) March 7, 2017
1. Miami Heat, 19-4
2. San Antonio Spurs, 18-4
3. Golden State Warriors 18-5
4. Wash Wizards 17-5
For a team that gives considerable minutes to the likes of Luke Babbitt, Rodney McGruder, Willie Reed, Wayne Ellington and Okaro White to be within three games of a .500 record is straight up insane. This is easily one of Erik Spoelstra’s finest coaching jobs, and this is a man who coached the Heatles. The Heat play their asses off, and with the sort of feel-good culture that should be familiar to the Raptors, they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
'@MiamiHEAT culture! pic.twitter.com/UyhFz5tWWU— AsPe Heat (@AsPe0308) March 7, 2017
Here are some things to watch:
Jonas Valanciunas Gets Another Favourable Matchup
Valanciunas has had the good fortune of getting some matchups against big, paint-oriented brutes over the last couple of games, and has been probably the best Raptor over this 2-game stretch. After notching double-doubles against the Pelicans and the Hawks, and breaking his way back into the fourth quarter rotation, Valanciunas gets the opportunity to dominate a matchup against Hassan Whiteside. JV was nearly unstoppable in the playoff series against Miami last spring until he got injured, and this is his chance to continue showing his worth.
Dion Waiters is Fun as Hell
If you’re unable to enjoy the Dion Waiters experience right now, I have to question your sanity and your soul as a basketball fan. The man is dropping alarmingly good quotes and stunting on the entire league on the court.
Dion Waiters: "I always tell people, you can’t really have a bad day in Miami. If you do, you’re just a miserable person." That's 100.— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) March 10, 2017
Reason #1000 why i will never stop loving Dion Waiters: banks in 35-foot 3, taunts crowd into oblivion after pic.twitter.com/05yV5FcQJn— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 7, 2017
Ok this isnt funny anymore Dion Waiters is like the best player in the NBA now how is this happening EVERY NIGHT pic.twitter.com/jKX3EoDYGr— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 9, 2017
He’s getting articles like this written about him.
Since January 17, Waiters has averaged 20.8 points on 50 percent shooting, including 47.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Seriously, this is one of the feel-good stories in the NBA. Enjoy the experience.
Russian Roulette of who shows up
One of the most frustrating things about the Raptors right now is that any given night, it’s totally unknown which player is going to perform. Against the Hawks for example, no bench player besides Norman Powell had a game worth remembering. That sort of inconsistency is a staple with the youth and inexperience on the Raptors’ bench, and perfectly encapsulates the Jekyll and Hyde team that the Raptors are right now. Getting a bit of a scoring punch from two or more of Powell, Delon Wright, Patrick Patterson, and P.J. Tucker would be very helpful in keeping the Raptors offense afloat.
Where to Watch: Sportsnet One, 8pm EST