I write these thoughts after every Toronto Raptors game, and almost all of the time, I really enjoy doing so. But every once in a while, the Raptors play a game that I just take no joy in writing about whatsoever.
Every one of those games is against the Miami Heat.
1. Too Sloppy
If there’s one thing we can say about the Miami Heat, it’s that they’re fundamentally sound. They just don’t make a lot of mistakes, and if you make mistakes against them, they’ll take advantage.
It’s not like the Raptors were terrible — at least not through three quarters — but their play was a bit loose, on both ends. And that might work against Charlotte or a shorthanded Dallas Mavericks team, but it’s not gonna work against Miami. Even missing three rotation players, the margin for error against them is thin. And the Raptors just weren’t sharp enough last night.
And when it got down to winning time? The Miami D just locked in and the Raptors couldn’t generate quality looks.
I’ll say this much — it made me nostalgic for last year’s Raptors, who made few mistakes and knew how to look in in the fourth. I miss that team.
2. OG Strength
OG Anunoby was a bright spot for the Raptors last night; he continues to shoot the ball well (4-of-8 from downtown) but also found opportunities to use his strength and get some buckets around the rim.
Now, he did get carried away at one point, dropping his shoulder and bowling over Duncan Robinson. But he’s looking more comfortable using his size on offense, and it’s great to see. Combined with him hunting his shot more from deep, as well as growing comfort passing the ball from the middle of the zone, and we’re finally starting to see OG unlock his offensive potential. His handle might still be a mess, but the rest of it is coming together nicely.
3. Slim Advantage
Chris Boucher had probably his worst game of the season last night; this might have been the very first time an opposing team actually game planned for him. The Heat just gave him no space to operate on offense, and they repeatedly targeted him on defense with the much bigger, much stronger Bam Adebayo.
But one thing I enjoyed: Chris drawing an offensive foul against Bam.
When Bam raises that elbow against pretty much any other NBA centre, it’s not generating much separation and is just a no-call. Against the Slimm Duck? Chris goes flying and the foul is obvious.
It’s one of the few times Boucher’s slim frame has been an advantage on defense.
4. Good Baynes
Aron Baynes delivered his second kinda-OK-not-too-bad performance in a row, which was nice to see. Yes, the bar is very low, but he’s been playing solid on the defensive end (even if the whistle isn’t doing him any favours). He did a solid job on Bam Adebayo last night, much better than I expected in fact, Given Adebayo’s considerable athletic advantages.
Baynes even hit a three, his first since before the Raptors went out west!
In fact, given his play, and given how ineffective Boucher was, I’m a bit surprised Nick Nurse didn’t go back to Baynes in the fourth quarter. Perhaps the trust isn’t there yet. But with Alex Len gone, the Raptors are extra small, and it seems inevitable that Baynes’ minutes will increase at some point.
5. Old Ass Andre
I’m still not over Andre Igoudala burying the Raptors in Game 2 of the 2019 Finals (heck, I’m still not over the Raptors drafting Rafael Aruajo over him), so it was with much loathing that I watched him burn the Raptors yet again last night, this time for 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown. He was stealing the ball and dunking, too, and tossing down alley-oops which, just, no. No thank you.
I know we praise Kyle Lowry’s agelessness a lot around here, but the praise just doesn’t extend to Andre Igoudala. Either come to the Raptors now (17 years too late!) or retire. Either way please just put me out of my misery.
Oh, we get to do this all again on Friday! I’M SO EXCITED.
The Heat, man. The freakin’ Heat.