james raptors

7:30 p.m. TSN2. Raptors. Heat.

Slugfest would be the wrong word.

Slobberknocker, perhaps?

The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object.

Okay, that’s probably enough. The 15-26 Raptors visit the 26-12 Miami Heat tonight, and by all accounts it should be a Heat blow-out victory at home. However, the Heat have lost to the Wizards, Pistons and Bucks, among other, better teams. And the Raptors have, of course, beaten the Pacers and Rockets and…that’s it for above-.500 teams, I think.

But there’s always a chance, so let’s break it down.

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: Miami 110.7 (3rd), Toronto 106.1 (12th)
D-Rating: Miami 104.8 (12th), Toronto 108.2 (26th)
Pace: Miami 91.4 (18th), Toronto 90.0 (25th)
Strength: Miami – Having LeBron James (1st), Toronto – Ball Control (2nd)
Weakness: Toronto – Not Having LeBron James (T-30th), Miami – Rebounding (24th Def, 30th Off)

Synergy Says
Heat: The top team in isolation, with cutters, and with dive-men is also the top team overall in terms of points per possession. They’re also top-10 in every category except for scoring from offensive rebounds, where they’re 14th. If that isn’t enough, they’re also one of the most balanced offenses in the league, with transition buckets being their largest share at just 13.5%. Defensively, don’t even try handing the ball off, hitting a cutter or scoring in transition. Those are non-starters. They’re not great defending on isolation plays and defending spot-up shooters, the latter of which is not exactly where the Raptors excel.

Raptors: The Raptors are the top team in the league at scoring on offensive rebounds, which isn’t a huge surprise. Nor is the team ranking top-10 with dive men, since Davis and Johnson have been strong in that area. What is surprising, though, is the team ranking third in isolation offense – on paper this makes them a good match-up in Synergy terms against the Heat. Defensively, the Raptors are great guarding screens and pick-and-roll ball handlers, and also don’t allow a lot of scoring off offensive rebounds. They do, however, allow a lot of scoring from every other situation. And the Heat have LeBron James, who averages 28-7-7 against the Raptors for his career, right in line with his career numbers.

Positional Breakdown
Point Guard – Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry v. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole
Edge:
Raptors
Didn’t expect them to have an advantage, eh? Well, if there is one to be leveraged, here it is. Chalmers dials up threes and is actually a tough guard when he gets going, so it’s certainly not a night off for the Raptor guards. Still, they are option number four or five at almost all times, so they’re the least of coach Casey’s concerns. Lowry can’t afford to gamble defensively in help on the tough wings and leave Chalmers open. On defense, Chalmers is a big net positive, but most of his minutes are with the Big Three, so it’s tough to gauge him. He’s certainly active, but per Synergy he’s very exploitable in isolation.

Wings – DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson v. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Ray Allen and Mike Miller
Edge:
Heat
Do I need to break this down? James is the best player in the NBA, perhaps on both ends of the floor when fully engaged, and he’s flanked by an All Star in Wade and highly capable shooters off the bench. It’s basically a pick your poison situation against this team – double on James and Wade driving and try to recover on the shooters, or try to guard these guys one-on-one with your subpar wing defenders. This could get ugly.

Bigs – Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray v. Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Joel Anthony and THE BIRDMAN BRRRRRRR
Edge:
Heat
So, maybe you were thinking the Raptors could go a bit small since the Heat are small and the Raptors are thin in the paint right now? Hey, if you want to invite James to play the four and get more floor time for Allen/Miller/Battier, go for it. I’ll take my chances with Ed and Amir trying to exploit Haslem and Anthony where possible. And sure, Bosh gets hated on, but he’s shooting 54.5% from the floor and averaging 17-and-7, so he’s not exactly a slouch. If the Raptors can hammer the Heat on the boards, they have a puncher’s chance by way of having more possessions, but it’s still not a good chance.

The Picks
Vegas: Heat -10.5
Hollinger: Heat -10.5
Blake: Heat by 8

I’ll take the Raptors with the points, but I’d put the chances of them sneaking out with a win somewhere in the five percent range. It’s just too heavy a mismatch to realistically hope for a win, and the Heat are exceptionally well rested after five days off.


UPDATE: Came across this from HoopChalk which outlines how Chicago tried to take advantage of Miami’s pick-and-roll defense. It didn’t work out terribly well for them, but they created good looks in the examples given.

  • cinga

    What bars in Toronto do raptors fans watch the games? Real Sports obviously comes to mind but I don’t feel like spending $100 to watch the game have a few beers and some wings. any ideas? in my opinion toronto is seriously lacking a good basketball bar (nba/ncaa etc.) or for that matter decent sports bars. am i missing something? 

    • Nilanka15

      Since the Queafs are playing tonight, I’d be surprised if any GTA bar showed the Raps on a main screen…

      • wes mantooth

        bahahaha the “queafs” thats really funny

      • unknown guest

        There is truth there sir

    • unknown guest

      Uh, http://hoopssportsbar.com/ca/ ? I’ve never actually been, but with a name like “Hoops”… 

      • wes mantooth

        if thats the place on queen street, its gross and over priced! just sayin.. if youre gonna go there you might as well go to real sports

        • unknown guest

          Yeah? Damn.

        • Destro

          One at Yonge/College is better and they do show Raptor games…and you got the individual TVs in the booths as well… 

          • unknown guest

            Am gonna check that one out then next time

      • Punit Lad

        Last time I went there trying to catch some nba… they were showing hockey =[

        • unknown guest

          *smh* might as well have named it “Pucks”…

    • McRib Sandwich

      Not sure how close to downtown you are, but the St.Louis bar in the Bay St. atrium is pretty Raptors devoted. They’ll definitely have the game on.

      • unknown guest

        Cool, good to know!

  • KaioKev

    You don’t need a position break down. Size and strength is what the Heat will use to try and beat the Raptors.

    • Thegloveinrapsuniform

       do they even have to “try”?

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      Speed……..

  • Dru_hoang

    its true, the raps aren’t gonna get any love with the leafs playing too.

    st louis?
    boston pizza since they have a bunch of TVs

  • SukaTori

    this evening i feel will happen something special
    Low-ry is going to show us how to blow out the Heat
    and the double-double machine (aka 2+2 = tenth best PF on league)
    is going to put Heat tall men on the mincer
    c’mon guys let’s go

  • Dan

    Today there are a bunch of articles talking about Demars lack of growth, Tomorrow Holiday could be named an All star. Hopefully this will be another nail in BC’s coffin. He’s been searching for a point guard of the future and he passed up drafting one. The hoopsworld writers all worked with Holiday and talked out about how great he was going to be. Demar every year we hear if he just works on his handle and shot he has a chance to be good. Bc is lucky Ross has been good and has a flair to his game or more people would be talking about how good Drummond has looked and that so far he has shown more promise than Jonas.

    • Nilanka15

      I actually really liked DeRozan leading up to the ’09 draft.  I just didn’t think he’d be this inconsequential 4 years into his career….

      • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

        Not me. I wanted BJennings. I knew that DD had zero handles at USC from watching him play in the Pac10.

        DD, today, is a much better player than some people are trying to slag him for but he’s not a #1 or #2 guy for a winning team and maybe all the losing is taking its toll plus the many non calls as he drives to the hoop yet is hacked to death may be effecting his mental approach to the game. 

        Or DD could see TRoss coming for his spot sooner rather than later….lol

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      BC passed up on BJennings (Mil), JHoiliday (Phi), TLawson (Den), JTeague (Atl) all pgs selected after DD and have led their teams to the playoffs as starters.

      As well as PG DCollison (Ind/Dal) who has starting level talent but has been inconsistent after a surprising rookie season. 

      • Phatso

        Why are we comparing DD to point guards?  Wouldn’t a more useful exercise be to look at wings that were drafted after DeRozan?  

        With the pick we had, there isn’t a single one I’d rather have than DeRozan.  Terrance Williams is for sure more talented, but his character issues mean that Colangelo was never going to draft him anyways, especially since he isn’t a game changer of sorts. Gerald Henderson isn’t too bad either, but he’s probably best as a tertiary scoring option.  In terms of pure scoring, Marcus Thornton is probably the best scoring wing in that draft, and probably should have gone in the first round – but definitely not at #9.  

        What’s the point of comparing him to PGs, especially when you have Lowry pegged as the PG of the future?

      • sleepz

        Funny thing is the days before the draft we heard BC wanted to take Holiday.lol

        No disrespect to Demar but Jrue does what he wants to do on the court.

        UCLA kids have been very productive in the league over the last while.

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      TRoss has the same problem as DD- weak handles but TRoss’ jumper is far superior as is his athleticism than DD’s (who is very athletic) as a rookie plus TRoss is about 2- 2 1/2 inches taller than DD.

      I love Tross’ game and potential but I would have selected Drummond (if not to keep to trade) as a potential future starting frontcourt of Val & Drummond  in Toronto would have been a real rebuild not a pr spun one to explain away all of BC’s missteps post Sam & CB…like drafting TRoss (over AD then dogging him out twice during a live Raptors in game broadcast interview) then signing Fields (overpaid Nash collateral damage no jump shooting fake ass ‘glue guy’ whatever that rhetoric means) and extending DD (BC could have waited until after season to gauge true market value- for no other reason than to make it look like he was doing something positive to the fan base slight of hand) 3 YOUNG players who basically play the same sg/sf position.

      TRoss reminds me of Rudy from Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids- smooove……

  • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

    Heat have both CB & NCole (picked with 1st round draft pick that BC acquired from Miami in the CB deal & subsequently traded to Chi for JJohnson who traded the pick- Cole, back to Miami on said draft nite) thanks to BC.

    Raptors have nothing to show for dealing CB- how is BC still running things?

    CB TPE- do you know me?

    Watch Casey most likely go small ball and the Heat start to open up from 3 while LBJ abuses Fields at the 4.

    Only hope for a close game is if the Heat come out half stepping just going through the motions but if the Heat come out focuse dit could get really ugly fast.

    Heat 112 Raptors 92

  • Statement

    I posted this on another thread, but I’d really like an answer so here it goes again:

    “I was messing around on basketball reference.

    Apparentely, the raptors are 4-11 in games decided by 5 points or less, translating into a 27% winning percentage.

    Is this bad luck, bad crunch time execution, lack of talent?

    One way to assess this would be to the performance league-wide for teams across multiple seasons and see if there is a year-to-year correlation between close wins and close losses.
    If there is no correlation, luck (or something which is unpredictable) can be assumed. If there is a correlation, then perhaps it takes something (more talent, better coaching/execution) to win close games on a consistent basis.”

    Blake / (or somebody with the time and interest), get on this.

    • BlakeMurphy

      I will try and dig into more data on this and put together a Hoopdata post in the next bit.

      Initial thought: I believe close games have been shown to be mostly random. However, there are DEFINITELY factors that can play in, such as defensive execution, individual defensive skill, 3-point shooting and most importantly coaching. 

      Tough to isolate for all of those things, but I’m pretty sure that over time it’s been shown to be fairly unpredictable year to year, meaning the Raptors have been unlucky (for example, in the two games where the NBA later apologized for making referee errors, which could swing it to a much more reasonable 6-9).

      • Statement

        Thanks for the insight and for volunteering to do the work.  It should be interesting to see the results.

        I really butchered my post (supposed to be correlation of records in close games), but I’m glad you knew was talking about.

        For the record, their pythagorean Win-Loss is 18-23, so maybe some luck is in play.  However, their pythagorean record is still only 20th in the league so still on the outside looking in.

    • mountio

      not sure i need blake and advanced stats to answer the raps part of the question. Its clearly lack of talent and bad crunch time execution. We do not (and havent for years) have a player that can get us a hoop or a double team when we need a basket. AB in the post is the closest thing. 
      Add that to brutal playing calling and execution (simple stuff like inbounds plays!) .. and you have a recipe for 27% winning % in close games .. 

      • Statement

        I’m not convinced it’s that clear for a couple of reasons.

        In a close game, the outcome is decided by only one or two possessions.  Anything can happen in 1 or 2 possessions.

        Also, during the course of the game, there may have been random things that happened (bad reffing, unlucky bounces out of bounds, good shots rimming out) which make it a close game.

        For example, if team A makes a last second shot to win by 1 point, who’s to say that team B wasn’t screwed by the refs earlier in the game thus setting up the 1 point win by team A.  Of course, being screwed by the refs is (theoretically) random, hence we can’t expect that effect to persist for team A going forward.  Maybe in the next close game, Team A gets screwed by the refs.

        Maybe I’m over thinking this but I’m curious to see the correlation.

        • mountio

          Im not sure. I agree there is some level of randomness towards the end of the game .. and eventually if you play enough close games, you will win some (this is essentially the theory behind the hollinger team ranks (which focus more on point differential than Ws or Ls as he believes that overall ability to score / stay in games are a better indicator of success than ability to get individual Ws and Ls). 
          Having said that, this was on display in full force last night. The only reason we stayed in the game down the stretch last night was that Jose hit two huge (and long) 3s in the last 2 mins. Hardly brilliant offensive execution .. but fortunate shots. The heat, on the other hand, got a couple of back cuts, LBJ in the post etc – much, much higher %age hoops that should be much more repeatable than Joses ability to hit long 3s with the shot clock dieing. 
          Im interested to see what Blake comes up with .. but I think this one comes down to lack of talent / execution

          • Statement

            You could also make the case that randomness screwed the Raptors as they missed 12 free throws, well below their average.

  • phez

    I want to root for raptors … but the birdman is back!

    • Phatso

      PRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…what happened to that boy?

  • Adriiian

    Hoping for a Raptors W. It’s def possible.

    • unknown guest

      It wouldn’t surprise me, tbh

  • Destro

    This day got real for the stanning brigade…

    NO All star bid for ol softy panse #7
    meanwhile Edward voted in to the top 25 under 25 players in the league…

    If i were Ed id print that out and tape it to Caseys door…

    • Phatso

      If I were Ed, I’d print that out and tape it to DeMar DeRozan’s door.

      • unknown guest

        Oh, ouch!

      • Destro

        I didnt realize Ed’s teammates determined his playing time….

        • Phatso

          That’s not what I meant, sir.  I meant that Ed’s strong showing is not going unnoticed.  DeMar DeRozan, however, as a 23-year old was not recognized as a part of the top 25 under 25, and needs to continue to step up and assert himself.

    • trample54

      Obviously his play hasnt been up to par mr obvious

  • NyAlesund

    It will be a long night………..

  • Destro

    Even when they were up by 15 in the 2nd qtr i knew they had no chance of winning this game….As a team do not have the pedigree and mental fortitude to win these games,forget about talent…

    Whenever the the lead starts slipping on this team they resort to panicking..horrible shots,standing around,playing afraid….

  • KJ-B

    I TOLD Y’ALL ABOUT ALAN ANDERSON!!!!!!! DUDE has Delusions of Grandeur!!!! 

    • KJ-B

      Ohhh Casey, WHY was Terrence Ross on the bench AGAIN after an EXCEPTIONAL EFFORT???????????

    • cdub

      yup I’ve never been a fan and that’s why.