The In-Season tournament quarter-finals have been a fun watch these last few nights, but its finally time to get back to Toronto Raptors basketball. This elongated break has given Toronto four full days of rest without any travel, which should be a benefit as they host one of the most banged up teams in the league — the Miami Heat.
Miami’s also had somewhat of a break thanks to the IST, with three days off after their loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. However, that “break” was not long enough for many of their injured players to heal back up to game level. Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Haywood Highsmith are all listed as out tonight, and serve as key starters or rotational pieces when healthy.
Losing Tyler Herro is nothing new to this Heat team, who just made a run to the 2023 NBA Finals without the young guard. Only the first game of Miami’s 2023 playoff run saw Herro take the court and this season is off to a similar start. Despite posting the most efficient and highest scoring numbers of his young career so far, the Kentucky grad has only suited up for eight games.
With no disrespect to Herro, the more notable Kentucky grad missing from this Heat lineup is Bam Adebayo. The centre has only missed four games this season, with the Heat dropping three of them. Also posting his highest scoring season so far, Adebayo’s presence is missed both on offence and defence. Being an undersized big man at “only” 6’9”, Adebayo has relied on his strength and athleticism on his way to four All-Defence team appearances.
The Bam Adebayo DPOY Campaign continues pic.twitter.com/Lwtg7TeyuI— HEAT NATION (@Zachppp) November 12, 2023
The interior presence of Bam Adebayo will be missed against this Raptors team that feasts in the paint against smaller team. Toronto ranks fifth in the NBA when it comes to points in the paint on home court, and scoring close to the basket isn’t the only aspect of the Raptors’ game that revolves around the painted area.
A lot of Toronto’s playmaking revolves around getting into the paint and hitting the open man on the perimeter. Whether it’s Dennis Schroder penetrating, Pascal Siakam finding a mismatch and drawing the double team, or Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl exhibiting their strength and size in the post, Toronto has a multitude of ways to make plays from the painted area.
This is why guard play is so important.— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) November 30, 2023
Schroder can burst through the seams, get downhill -- paint touch -- help comes, and a wide-open 3 for OG pic.twitter.com/Y2l6wuIf5U
Despite sitting third last in three-point percentage, the Raptors are middle of the pack when it comes to three-point attempts. They’ve done a good job getting shooters open, but its knocking them down that’s been the issue. Thankfully tonight, they face a Heat team that allows the fifth best three-point percentage to opponents at nearly 38%, while giving up the 12th most attempts. Already missing their defensive anchor, Miami’s help defence may prioritize stuffing the Raptors from getting to the rim and allow their shooters to get open.
While their team three-point percentage sits just below 34%, Toronto has seven players who’ve shot better than the team clip this year. Barnes, Trent Jr., Schroder and Flynn are all 34% and up, with Anunoby, Boucher and Porter Jr. (when he plays) above 40%. Consistency with the deep ball has been difficult for Toronto, but look for the aforementioned players to lead the way shooting-wise tonight.
How to Watch:
TSN, at 7:30 P.M. ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Miami: Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Orlando Robinson
Toronto: Christian Koloko (Out - Respiratory), Gradey Dick (Out - 905 Assignment)
Miami: Bam Adebayo (Out - Hip), RJ Hampton (Out - Knee), Tyler Herro (Out - Ankle), Haywood Highsmith (Out - Lower Back), Dru Smith (Out - ACL)
Return of the King
It’s always a great atmosphere when Kyle Lowry returns to Toronto. The GROAT has struggled at times since taking his talents to South Beach, but has seemed to find his niche with Miami this season. His shot attempts have been reduced, he’s sharing more of the playmaking load, but his three-point shooting has never been better. Knocking down the three-ball at 44%, five of Lowry’s seven shot attempts per game are coming from behind the arc. Also known for his stellar defence, Lowry’s transitioned into somewhat of a 3&D point guard. Having started every game he’s appeared in this season, Scotiabank Arena is going to erupt when the long-time Raptor is announced as starting again tonight.