On it’s surface it will look like a valiant effort fraught with inevitability. The plucky Raptors did pretty well to hang for as long as they did with the Heat, who simply won out on the backs of their three superior talents.
From a primacy and recency standpoint however, it was a frustrating effort as two solid quarters were bookended by backbreaking runs that put the Raptors in a big hole early and buried them late.
According to head coach Dwane Casey, those Miami surges weren’t mutually exclusive.
“My philosophy is the way you start is the way you finish,” said Casey post-game. “If you start out lackadaisical like that and let them have the haymaker, they are going to end it with a haymaker. We didn’t have the resistance that we needed at the beginning of the game.”
That lack of resistance forced the Raptors to claw back from an seemingly instant 14-point hole, which they did fairly admirably and thanks in large part to a strong third quarter, they gave themselves a second opportunity to pull off the upset with the score level down the stretch.
Cue up haymaker two, which revealed many of the same root causes of Miami’s opening run.
– The Raptors offence continues to show signs of improvement, but it’s opponent field goal percentage is going to be on Casey’s mind at Saturday’s practice. The Heat shot a blistering .571 (44-for-77) from the field — an Raptors opponent season-high — including .526 (10-for-19) in the final quarter. Miami’s big three of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined for 86 of the Heat’s 113 points and shot .618 (34-for-55) from the field.
“I mean tonight was just porous, that’s the best word I can use,” said Casey. “You look at our numbers, Andrea gets his and DeMar gets his but you look at the other side, you’ve got James 26 [points], Bosh 30 and Wade 30, so you give it right back.
“Until we maintain a defensive constitution, we give ourselves no chance, especially against a talented team like this.”
– Another stat that will make Casey cringe is points in the paint, where the Raptors were outscored 64-36 by the Heat — also a Raptors opponent season-high. Miami’s ball movement, patience and decision-making was pretty on-point as they either waited for best high-percentage option inside or used either Wade or James to break down defenders and get to the rim.
– Many of those Heat points in the paint were due to transition buckets coming off turnovers, a nightmare for Casey coming into this matchup that played out in real time. The Heat scored 21 points off 16 Toronto giveaways on Friday, with many of those a result of the Heat anticipating telegraphed passes or shooting the gap for steals. Casey however, believed the Raptors did themselves no favours with the way they played down the stretch.
“The type of turnovers we had, I don’t know what happened with Dwyane Wade and James Johnson and the offensive foul [in the fourth quarter], those types of turnovers are the ones we can’t have. It’s tough enough just to get a good look. We have the turnovers, the missed assignments, whatever it is – those are the ones that shoot you in the foot.”
The Raptors will regroup at practice on Saturday and continue their homestand Sunday against Nene and the new-look Washington Wizards. Until then, here’s the best of what you had to say after Friday’s loss.