Thank God for the Heat. Over the last two seasons, as bad as things were for the Raptors, every time the Heat popped up on the schedule (home or away), the Raptors licked their lips and got themselves a win. Even though Wade and HO had their team 7-4 heading into the ACC, last night was no different. Before getting into it, how good is Wade? Miami is essentially a D-League team captained by the best player (I guess, you can interchange Kobe, LeBron and Wade as far as I’m concerned) in the league.
Bargnani got things rolling where he faked a three on the very first possession, took a step inside the three-point line and stuck a jumper. He committed a charge two possessions later, but he gave up a clean look at a three and a 15 footer to get into the paint. I will take him being aggressive like that any day of the week. Bargnani’s early active play opened space for Bosh to operate in the paint, giving him room to drive or step back and nail that jumper. Ball movement was fabulous with 7 of the 9 field goals in the quarter being assisted on (Calderon with 4 dimes).
The Heat were matching the Raptors basket for basket. Where the Raptors were creating good looks from the perimeter for each and knocking them down, the Heat were getting in the lane for layups/dunks. Wade got into the lane 6 times by my count, scoring 8 and setting HO up for a dunk. For the quarter, the Heat had 12 points in the paint to the Raptors’ 4.
The second quarter was a stretch where the Raptors could do no wrong. Ball movement was phenomenal:
- Hedo drove, drew the double and kicked to Bosh for the open jumper
- Jack drove, drew the double and kicked to Hedo for the open three
- Bargnani hits Belinelli with a skip pass for an open jumper
- Belinelli hits Johnson with three great passes in a row in the paint for layups (all three of these plays were ridiculous)
14 assists all together in the frame. It was actually the greatest 12 minutes I’ve ever seen the Raptors play. Everyone was involved, people were moving around, setting screens, hitting each other with passes, rolling towards the rim off the screen…smiling. At one point, Reggie Evans even rubbed Triano’s head and kissed him – good times.
- 69 points at the half
- 28-41 from the field
- 9-10 from the line
- 23 rebounds (4 offensive)
- 21 assists
- 22 points off the bench
The third quarter started with the Heat determined to do something and Wade setting the tone by attacking the paint. The whole offense went through him. He got into the lane, finished despite contact, or dropped it off to someone for a dunk, or kicked out to what eventually turned out to be an uncontested jumper from the perimeter. On the Raptor side of things, it couldn’t have been worse, Calderon must have been passing out bad Gatorade at half because this wasn’t the same team from the 2nd quarter.
It wasn’t so much that the Raptors were playing horribly, they were just playing uninspired. The Raptors and Heat went back and forth, matching each other basket for basket for the first half of the quarter. Ball movement wasn’t the same though for the Raptors, no one was attacking the rim, our bigs were active on the glass, but little else. Where the Raptors were getting into the paint in the first half, they were standing around the perimeter popping jumpers (they missed 10 jumpers in the quarter).
Then the Heat flipped a switch. They scored a quick 8 points, then went on a mini 7-3 run, then a 6-2 run to close out the quarter. All-in-all, the Heat went on a 21-5 run in the last 4:58 of the 3rd. it came quickly and without warning. The Raptors didn’t score a field goal in that stretch with all 5 points coming at the line. It was a sad site, like watching AltRaps sob after a night of paid companionship.
The 4th was tense with both sides only scoring 4 points in the first 3 and a half minutes. Then it slowly happened. The Raptors would hit a shot, the Heat responded with a three. HO blocked Hedo on the drive, Wade pushes the ball on the break, found Jones who stopped and popped (he had his foot on the line or it would have been a tie game) and boom, 100-99 – Raptors up by 1 with 3:44 left in the game. All of us at home sank into our seats, those of us at RFF sank in their beverages.
Bosh attacks the rim like a man possessed out of the timeout, drew the foul and hit both from the line, 102-99 Raptors – slight breathing space. HO returns the favour on the next possession, 102-101 Raptors. Hedo gets into the paint, draws the double and kicks to Bargnani who hits a clutch three, 105-101 Raptors. Beasley responds with a jumper off of a swing pass from Jones, 105-103 Raptors. Hedo gets into the lane, and draws the foul, hits both, 107-103 Raptors….
With the game on the line, a defensive stand was needed and it came. After the Raptors made three great defensive rotations, Bosh reached high to block a Beasley hook as the shot-clock was expiring and got possession back with the Raptors up 4. Hedo penetrated and hit an open Bargnani, who swung the ball to a wide open Jack for a three – dagger, 110-103 Raptors, Heat timeout. Another defensive stand was soon to follow, Raptors rotated on defense like clockwork and contested an already questionable three by Wade which rimmed out. Calderon ran the pick ‘n roll to find a rolling Bosh who stepped back and stuck the jumper, another dagger, 112-103 Raptors, another Heat timeout. After Jones misses a relatively contested long three Jack hit another dagger from behind the arc and the rest was academic.
For the record, I still think Jack is a terrible shooter, and should be restricted to driving and dishing, but he had a solid 4th quarter and hit two clutch shots to seal the game.
The Four Factors to Winning
Shooting the Ball Well
Did I say ‘well’? I meant to say ‘great’. the Raptors shot the hell out of the ball last night. 58% from the field (60% from behind the arc) and 81% from the line. The great shooting was a result of the great playmaking. You pass the rock around until someone frees up and you’ll get great looks, it’s simple. Note that the Heat had 18 more field goal attempts but had 2 less field goals made.
Raptors – 64%
Heat – 47.7%
Taking Care of the Ball
Horrible, just horrible. The Raptors did not take care of the ball at all, which is something we take for granted around these parts. How bad was it? Calderon had 10ast and 4tos, Hedo had 8ast 4tos (Jack had none).
Raptors – 20.2%
Heat – 9%
For all the great work our bigs did rebounding the ball (Bargnani had 10 rebounds for crying out loud), we did a terrible job of rebounding on our own end. Beasley and HO were more then a handful (grabbing 6 and 3 respectively) which allowed the Heat wings to slip in and grab a few offensive boards that almost broke our back.
Raptors – 26.4%
Heat – 30.6%
Getting to the Free Throw Line
Both teams were about the same from the line but the Raptors had a higher free throw rate (Free Throw Rate = Free Throw Attempts / Field Goal Attempts) because they got to the free throw line more frequently.
Raptors – 50.7%
Heat – 38.2%
It’s safe to say that the Raptors won this game with phenomenal shooting, both from the field and the line, as they were out rebounded and didn’t protect the ball nearly as well as the Heat did. After that road swing this win was very necessary.
Bosh, again…you surprised? Our boy had another monster night, with 29pts 10rebs 4blks. He was a monster all over the court. Bargnani was right there though with a monster of his own: 24pts 10rebs 2blks. The difference tonight was the play of Hedo and Jack, who both had their best games as Raptors.