I will cut and paste the first paragraph from the Philly post-game, as it applies here as well:

Let’s see how this went. Raptors build big lead. Check. Raptors blow said lead. Check. Raptors lose game. Check and mate. This recipe is getting staler than my wife’s cooking (no worries, she doesn’t read this). In between all that there were the usual occurrences that plague the Raptors. For instance, bizarre substitution patterns, random lineups, late tactical reactions, and that’s just the coaching. Throw in a pinch of your star player shying away and instead a fringe NBAer trying to take the game over, a dash of me-ball, and just a sprinkle of bad officiating for good measure, and you got yourself a Raptors game.

It’s not the first time the Raptors have managed to stay close against a decent opponent this season, and perhaps that’s a sign of growth for this team. The collective competitiveness that the team has displayed isn’t due to reasons you might’ve thought at the start of training camp. DeRozan and Lowry have slowed down considerably, Valanciunas is injured, and Bargnani no longer factors into the plans. It’s people like Ed Davis, Jose Calderon, Alan Anderson, and Amir Johnson that have been the reason for the Raptors’ stretches of competency of late, but as these same players have displayed (especially, Anderson), they can’t do it alone, especially with the game on the line. It’s then when you count on Lowry and DeRozan to produce and live up to the contract and trade hype, respectively, and when they fail to produce up to expectations, losing ensues.

Related: Reaction: Raptors 116, Heat 123 (OT)

The Raptors shot 63% in the first quarter, forced four Miami turnovers in the quarter and for the entirely of the first half were hitting their threes, with Lowry and Ross providing a nice spark off the bench and Jose on point early. After being schooled by Bosh on the first possession of the game, Ed Davis was eating the weak Miami frontline alive by shuffling to the right positions away from PnR action, and was being found dutifully by his guards. The rest he did with remarkable guile and efficiency. Miami kept coughing the ball up which kept shattering any continuity they were trying to build, and the scoreboard was showing a 15-point Toronto about midway through the second.

This isn’t an unusual situation for the Raptors, they’ve gotten to hot starts before and have almost always relinquished the lead. It’s almost like teams look at the record, fall asleep and the Raptors jump on them. Soon enough, though, the opposition wakes up, gets their house in order and the Raptors surrender the lead and in most cases, the game. The 11-3 run which the Heat ended the half with wasn’t unpredictable, but a matter of time. When you have LeBron James (34th triple double) on your team, exerting pressure on a defense becomes simply a matter of walking the ball up the court without turning it over, and giving it to James who can break down any man off the dribble, thus creating help situations. In this little run, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier were the beneficiaries of LeBron’s generosity, as both hit threes to quell the Raptors uprising and send the Heat down only 7 at halftime. We all knew what was coming.

The third picked up where the second left off, as the Heat shot 70% in the fourth, led by Wade’s 14 points. Wade and James took full control of the game as every Miami play was run through them, and their supporting cast delivered. I can point to countless situations where the Raptors got back-cutted or completely lost guys like Battier, Chalmers, and Allen for easy scores, but it’s awfully difficult for any player to be so help-conscious (as you are with Wade and James on the floor), while also closely checking your man. It’s not an excuse but a simple reality when playing the Heat. When dealing with Miami you either have to have extremely efficient rotations so that you can afford to send help and recover, or you need to be able to slow down the point of attack. The Raptors did neither, but if I had to bet money on them doing one of the two, it would be to at least keep Wade in front of them, which DeRozan and Lowry failed miserably at.

You might’ve guessed that by this juncture the Raptors had blown their lead and headed to the fourth down two. The Raptors effectively used a four-guard lineup of Ross, Anderson, Calderon/Lucas, Lowry, and Davis in a big chunk of that third quarter with decent offensive results (although they got hit hard on the boards). Basically, Casey put out a lineup that would be best suited to provide help and recover when needed, I’m sure he expected more of Lowry in terms of man-defense but never got it. All in all, it was an effective combination as the Raptors deployed and managed the zone rather well. This was more a response measure to the Heat’s athleticism more than anything.

Related: Ross Breakaway Dunk vs. Heat

As has been the case in a few games this year, Casey has always had a decision to make: whether to adapt to the other team’s style of play, or enforce his own. He had a chance to put Davis and Johnson in the lineup in the fourth (a combination that had success early in the game), but chose to continue with the four-guard setup. You could argue that it worked since the Raptors were in this game for the entirety of the fourth quarter, despite DeRozan being benched for another lackluster outing where his refusal to put any pressure on the defense through drives earned Casey’s ire. All in all, DeRozan sat for a stretch spanning 14:10 between the third and the fourth. Wow!

Jose Calderon, our most efficient perimeter shooter, did not enter the fourth quarter till the 3:18 mark and promptly hit two threes which went a long ways to send this game to OT. You could say Casey was saving him for just this, or you could say he was being negligent in not bringing in Calderon early, especially for Lucas who was very so-so. You might, somehow, justify that. What you can’t justify is Ed Davis not playing the entire fourth quarter. Yes, he had four fouls but so what? Why is our best offensive big man on the bench? Why cannot a Johnson/Davis combo be used since it worked so well in the first quarter? This is no rationale here. At the very least, introducing Davis would’ve prevented Miami from sending their big men to help on guards since Davis’s movement always punishes any man trying to cheat off him.

Alan Anderson made his first two threes in the fourth and missed his next three shots. This is the pattern for Anderson, he has a good stretch where he performs beyond expectation and then projects that into his future performance, which never works because the averages always screw him. He’s not your go-to guy in the fourth. Yes, he is a shot-maker and can get hot but to allocate FGAs for him in your offense will always lead to naught. More on him in a bit. DeRozan, our hero, was introduced in the fourth quarter with about seven minutes left and he didn’t let his poor performance keep him getting two massive buckets late on, one a thunderous dunk right through the heart of the defense. It was a good response but not nearly enough from our franchise player (yes, he is that now). The seven assist count is nice, but in a game like this when Anderson is shooting you out of it and ‘Bad Lowry’ had made an appearance, it’s scoring that matters, and going 2-4 from the FT line is very poor.

Related: What’s Wrong with DeMar DeRozan?

There was a key foul called against Amir Johnson against Bosh in regulation which really hurt the Raptors, it was no more than two guys battling for position with no harm done and the zebras blew the whistle. It allowed Bosh to go 1-2 from the line and tie the game with 53 seconds left, which was the last scoring play of regulation. On to overtime, and it was a repeat of the fourth quarter for Alan Anderson, only worse. While Casey inexplicably introduced Aaron Gray instead of Ed Davis, he also seemed to have given Alan Anderson the green light to shoot from anywhere in the Miami metropolitan area. Anderson made his first two shots and missed his next six. DeRozan did not even shoot once. This is a problem of game-planning. Pure and simple. If you’re wondering what happened to Ed Davis, he finally did get in the game with 1:57 left, a whole 15:03 off the court. This is madness. Pure and simple.

Stepping back, this was in Miami and you weren’t expecting much from this game anyway. The fact the Raptors took it to OT thanks to good general execution, shot-making, and good team-play is a credit. Maybe it’s the growth that I mentioned earlier, right now the team is projected to win 26 games, which is three ahead of the pace from last year. It’s definitely projecting to be a disappointing win total, as we’d hope they’d be in the mid 30s at least. I’m not using injury as any sort of excuse as that is, as the cliche goes, part of the game. It’s sad that Raptor fans, instead of celebrating wins, are left with these close encounters with good teams as a solace.

Of greater concern here is the play of DeRozan who continues to regress, not necessarily in terms of overall production, but demeanor and aggressiveness. Part of the pressure on him is due to Lowry being seemingly incapable of consistently putting the defense under any sort of pressure off the dribble or even in transition. With Lowry not serving the purpose, DeRozan’s passiveness on offense is magnified because without him the Raptors simply don’t have a perimeter player that is capable of getting to the FT line and supplying deliberate offense, thus leaving the door open for guys like Anderson.

It’s been another trying season, and it will continue to be so.

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  • raptorspoo

    This is why this is a league of superstars – because they finish off games. We have none in a league where serious competitors have at least two. Not even one in the making (don’t kid yourself). This is the problem with the raps and BC doesn’t have the balls to tank this team to obtain one.

    We can go out in the FA market and buy the crap of a team we have.

    I think watching ED, Ross and JV play starter (&finisher) minutes and the raps losing (/tanking) all the time would be more fun than to watch the rotation they’re putting out there now.

    • voy


      what diff does it make to the future of this franchise if we win because alan anderson got hot in ot or if grey played well. 

      if they are all healthy and not going totally rogue, there is no reason why ed shouldn’t get 30 minutes a game and t.ross 20ish minutes. 

    • Sig

      exactly. Who the f*ck wants to watch Alan Anderson play?

  • Nilanka15

    Watching the 1st half, I was telling myself that it’s easily the best 2 consecutive quarters I’ve seen the Raptors play in the past 3 years.  They were doing everything right…and then the “real” Raptors showed up to end the half.

    Side note:  My wife thinks Alan Anderson looks like Method Man….

    • SteveB

      No!The “real” James and Wade showed up!

    • voy

      dude, your wife knows who method man is?  I am so envious.

    • RobertArchibald

      N-O-S-H-O-T. Man.

  • Nilanka15

    The one thing I don’t understand about the wacky substitutions is why don’t the assistant coaches have any voices?  How does Davis sit for 15 minutes without Johnny Davis, Micah Nori, Tom Sterner, Eric Hughes or Scott Roth even noticing? 

    • Punit Lad

      I honestly think Casey was looking to keep some of his starters rested as much as possible for tonight’s game. Even though I wanted to see Davis and Calderon out there late, I think Casey did a decent job managing the minutes to keep them as fresh as they could be for tonight’s game. 

      • Nilanka15

        This theory would be more believable if the Raptors didn’t have a chance of winning last night.

      • wes mantooth

        i liked jack armstrongs theory of going for broke by fouling miami, then trying the homerun 3 cause there was no way we were gonna win in overtime! wouldve saved  the players, our hearts and eyes from the gray /andersen debacle in OT. also you never know! casey couldve set up a great play for aaron gray to hit a 3 for the win

  • downtown

    let’s not  forget a massive disparity in free throws allocation, the usual league office bias towards both Toronto and Miami teams, just in opposite qualities. third and 4th quarter became laughable since Miami team got foul calls every time someone would give them as much as ‘evil eye’. And that would be fine if the same standard was upheld on the other side of the equation, but, the reality is, Toronto got hacked, pushed, and kicked in front of the refs who absolutely positively made a conscious decision to establish and police that kind of a dual standard. Miami team did not deserve to win, not even to go to OT. Further and in collision with the league policies, refs have allowed Miami to protest every single call so much, commit offensive fouls and in particular, offensive 3 seconds violations. Playing full second half against 8 players was a bit too much for this Toronto outfit.

  • DumbassKicker

    Seriously, pay a little more attention to ED’s “D”, and it’s affect on the team’s D,  before calling the coach out all the time for not having him on the floor at crunch time. There’s a reason for this pattern of Amir, haobbled ankle and all, is consistently out there, but ED isn’t, at crunch time! Gray didn’t hurt them. When ED subbed for him with 2 minutes left in OT, Raps were down 1 pt. What happened in the next 2 minutes? Down 7,,,,, but y’all are screaming that ED should have been in sooner? lol

    • Right Clique

      Ed is an above-average defender, with a positive net-differential and part of the most effective Raptors lineup (check 82games).

      To suggest that he’s a liability on defense and a negative to the team is plain wrong, just look at the first half as an example.  When a guy comes off the bench cold, as Ed did, his effectiveness is highly impacted, much like a cold shooter coming off the bench (see Dee Brown for old time Raptors fans).

      Your argument is essentially +/-, which is a ridiculous stat to begin with.  You’ve managed to actually apply the +/- to not even just a game, not even a quarter, but a span of two minutes and are using it to tout some kind of argument against Davis.

      • DumbassKicker

        I’m not using +/-. I’m not a stat geek at all!!! I shouldn’t have used that 2 minute example, but stats seem to be the only thing most on here relate to. Forget those two minutes and watch ED’s D on a regular basis. JUST WATCH, if you understand the game. JUST WATCH, and you’ll learn that whatever the fk 82games’ stats say, he’s far from an above average defender. Whatever stats that claim he is, from 82games or elsewhere, are useless.

        • 2damkule

          so, are all stats useless, or just the ones that don’t fit the narrative you’re trying to create?

          • DumbassKicker

            Is that the best you have? The subject is about ED’s defensive flaws being the key why he’s so seldom used in crunch time. It’s about 1 subject, and the subject isn’t stats. That’s what someone else is trying to use.

            My God, where did this lame style of redirecting the subject begin here? It seems ingrained in the RR collective minds.

            Tell me, do you actually pay attention to the team’s defense, and notice ED specifically at all? The kid’s coming along, but geez, he’s still often like a lost puppy out their on D, often. JUST WATCH the RR collective’s new golden boy.

            Shyt, I like the guy, and am loving the improvement we’re seeing in him, but too many people on here are just rose coloured glasses over the top with him, just like they were a couple of weeks ago with Lowry. This is not a championship team, and every player has his flaws. ED’s D is what’s keeping him on the bench down the stretch of most games (not just last night), NOT the collective claim that the coach doesn’t know what he’s doing. There’s cynicism, and then there’s stupidity. This whinery about Casey has gone over the edge, here at RR, toward stupidity, imo.

            • Nilanka15

              You still haven’t explained how playing an overall weaker player in Gray, was the better option.

              I have no problem with you defending Casey’s decision, or even slagging Davis’ defense, but that’s only half the story.  Why put Gray in?

              • what the

                why not put in your boy Gary forbes..

                • Nilanka15

                  Do you ever wonder why nobody responds to your posts with serious replies?

                • what the

                  you just did

          • NyAlesund

             Don’t be silly. The stats are useful only if you read them correctly. ED is not above defender, we don’t have an above defender except one, Fields.

    • Destro

      This is just plain not true…The team is hurt with Gray on the floor esp when you need points and behind….You’re playing 4 against 5 on offense that does hurt the team…

      Ed is an above average defender,DPOY candidate nah but hes no worse than our friend Amir who made 2 critical low IQ def mistakes in crucial moments last night….Not only is he our most athletic front court player but our best rebounder as well…

      You cant use + – and use that as an argument over a 5 min sample as an analysis of an individual players value…Thats just laughable…Team was down1 then went up 5 when Ed went to the bench over a 3 min span ??? FOH

      Ed is your best front court player and you play your best players to win games….It doesnt matter what his numbers were in small samples or what he did 4 games a go…Then again the problem time and time again with RR is yall like to apply BS to some players and not others on this team…. 

  • robertparrish00

    The way Lebron and Wade cry to the ref is hillarious.  The best was during the 1st half.  Lebron drove by Calderon, and started to complain for an And 1, then he looked behind an noticed Calderon was still at the top of the key.  No one was within three feet of him.  Classic.

  • Max

    The coaching of the Raptors is great. Look at how hard these guys are playing. Their improvement is huge. They are still a young team, so lots of small mistakes cost them wins.

    Don’t worry about Derozan so much, he played Wade pretty tough, it is a long season and he will snap out of his shooting slump. Slumps do happen. Gray was doing some good stuff out there. Sometimes centres do not have to score to help their team win.

  • Slap Dog Hoops

    Listen, the raptors are still far away from being respectable.  If they were to have beaten the Heat, that would have given them a lot of street cred.  Unfortunately it did not happen.  And could that good performance be due to the raptors playing well or Miami NOT playing that well?  Let’s be honest: a Heat team at full strength would have scorched the Raptors, but they still managed to come back from a 15 point raptor lead and beat them by seven at overtime.

    • Rb

       Raptors had 0 turnovers for the first quarter, and half through the 2nd quarter. The Raptors moved the ball around perfectly in the first half. The Raptors played immaculately!

    • 2damkule

      ah, i see.  so, if they’d scored a single additional point in regulation & won, they would have earned respect across the L. 

      ‘Let’s be honest: a Heat team at full strength would have scorched the Raptors…’

      wait, the heat weren’t at full strength?  they were probably tired though, what with being on the back end of a b-2-b.  what’s that?  oh, they hadn’t played in a week.  well, with all that time off, they were probably rusty.  not to mention they were playing on the road.  WHAT?

      look, it’s ok to admit that the heat played well (they did), even if they were lacking a game-7 kind of intensity toward the game.  just because they nearly lost, & needed OT to beat a clearly inferior team doesn’t mean that the raps don’t deserve credit for their effort. 

      • Sig

         haha, epic.

  • Even Jack Armstrong questioned why Ed Davis wasn’t in the game. Jose was also quite late entering in the 4th quarter. Shameful.

    • The Truth

       Even Jack Armstrong! (lol…)

  • Roarque

    I enjoyed the game. I agree that the Raps first half was the best ball they’ve played to date. The interior passing is world class and having T Ross around for a few slams is quite entertaining.

    Now, the Raptors aren’t going to beat the Miami Heat whose defense kicked in after half time and the game changed. The Heat decided which Raptor was going to shoot the ball throughout the second half. So AA got a lot of burn and he made his averages. But the rest of the team was shooting with a strong defender like Battier or James sticking a hand in their face, or a knee in their crotch in the paint.

    I’m less worried about DDR based on some courageous drives into the paint and some VERY SURPRISING dishes to his team mates for baskets. The Raps coasted ED and DDR so they can be ready for the Magic tonight. Watch for it.

  • onemanweave

    No wonder teams want super star players and you can’t win without them in the NBA. If you don’t have them, the refs penalize you severely.  Watching the Heat play is a bit like WWF wrestling, except you have three zebras getting into da act, not just one.


      Right. I mean, not like it’s the actual talent these super stars posses, it’s the zebras gifting them wins based on their marketability.  Bulletproof theory there, Champ.

      • onemanweave

        The talent should be enough. It does not need augmenting by the black and whites. It detracts from rather than enhances their considerable abilities but it is a neat way to win more games than you would with that large amount of “actual talent”.  Thanks for coming out, though, Flax.

  • Guy

    Seems the author of this article is determined to affix blame for this loss, & it appears Derozan & Lowry are his targets. Yes, in a game in which TO pushed Miami into OT, on their home floor no less, it was DD’s going 2-4 from the FT line that was very poor. His 50% shooting & 7 assts were nice… but oh those two missed FTs. Talk about looking for things to whine about. 

    And it was also ‘Bad Lowry’ that cost them. Lowry takes a couple ill-advised shots, gets roasted. Jose shoots well & gets all the praise. But when I look at the stats, I see Jose -15, Lowry -2. And Lowry spent time on the floor in the 2nd half with both Lucas & Gray. But KL is the bad guy. 

    Forget pointing fingers. Other than it was Miami, a far better team, they lost the game for two reasons. Miami shot 20 more FTs & got 25 more Rbs. 

    • SR

      Bang on!  The narratives of post-game analyses are entirely predictable on this blog.  They have picked up a couple storylines which are regurgitated ad nauseam in spite of the game just played.  Makes for very boring reading after the first couple weeks of the season.

      • Nilanka15

        When the same script plays out over and over again (i.e. take early lead, blow lead late, and lose in heart-breaking fashion), how much variety do you expect?  Especially since nobody…not the players or coaches, seem to be learning from their mistakes.  It’s groundhog day.

      • Destro

        Too many of the narratives because of agendas and player stannery on this board….

        Dudes that love bargnani creating BS that Ed Davis is too blame for this cuz they mad that he may have taken his mins…same with folk that love calderon blaming Kyle for everything in every loss….This board is a meeting place for the most part of fans of individual players on this team and not the team itself and you see that played out in some of the horrible analysis and slanted observations made in here…

    • forced_to_post

      The Raptors had 11 second-chance points, the Heat had 12.  Their dominant rebounding, believe it or not, had little to do with the outcome of the game.  It was a byproduct of Casey playing the smaller lineup and the zone.  He knew he’d get beaten on the glass but as long as the offense kept ticking, it was OK.

      It’s funny how you criticize the OP for mentioning DeRozan’s lack of FTs but then cite the Raptors lack of FTs as a reason for the loss!  FYI, Miami out-FTs their opponent in practically every game because it’s either 2 FTs or a dunk – take your pick.

      • Guy

        The author bashed Derozan for missing 2 FTs. In that sense, why not criticize every other player for a missed FT or FG? Any of those go in & it’s a win, right? What’s really funny is the author cherry picking one guy is laughable. Why isn’t there more emphasis on the fact Miami shot 20 more FTs?  

        And the dominant rebounding did matter. It took away 2nd chance opportunities for the Raptors & took time off the clock. That time may have given TO a couple more scoring opportunities. Could have been the difference.

    • Destro

      Good Lowry Bad Lowry obsos is code for Im a Calderon fan who hates every other PG that starts on this team and doesnt deliver unattainable goals for this team…


      Ummm.. in basketball it doesn’t matter what you’ve done during the game; what matters is what you do when the game is on the line.

      His 50% and 7A mean nothing if he’s shits the bed when it matters.

      • Guy

        Ummmmmm,  In basketball, if he shoots 20% & has 1 assist, the 2 missed FTs are irrelevant because the game isn’t on the line.

      • Destro

        A basket in the first quarter is worth same as in the last 5 mins of a game…

        • FLUXLAND

           No, no it is not. Never has or will be.

  • TheTyrant

    I don’t question subbing ED, but I do seriously question AA’s decision making in the OT. I don’t understand why he had to jack up those shots when Calderon was hitting. In crunch time, I don’t want AA being the man.

  • FuckMoney

    I 100% agree wtf was Casey doing in OVERTIME? and this wasn’t the first time he’s made bad decisions in pressure situations. Fields, Bargnani, and Grey should be either traded or sent to the D-League. Casey is going to be fired it’s only a matter of time.

  • cdub

    Besides Casey’s continously  and increasingly bizarre substitution patterns, am I the only one who had a massive problerm with what AA did to close the game….just chucking away out there.  The raptors broke their backs to win that game and despite Casey trying to screw them, AA actaully did screw them.  I imagine a few of the other players had some comments for him after that debacle.  I’ve been critical of his volume shooting and last night I actually liked what he was doing, getting in position to take that foul line jumper off the dribble.  Then he just flushes it all down the toilet along with the game.