C.J. Miles presented a promising addition in the offseason. He seemed to fit exactly what the Raptors needed: A barrage of well-thought-out three point attempts off the bench to help space the floor for a team that desperately needed it. He came as advertised, for the most part, but ended up shooting just over 36% from deep with 6.5 attempts from beyond the arc a night. Still, fans remained optimistic. There was no one else on the Raps (with the exception of a scorching KLOE) that could go on the runs Miles was prone to get on. After all, despite his tendency to run hot or cold, he still had just five games this season where he failed to make a three and six games where he poured in five or more. Yet on Sunday evening it became painfully evident that Miles missing does more than just leave three points on the floor.
Before I dig into Miles too hard it’s important to note two things:
1 ) The Wizards deserve all the credit in the world for turning up their defence at home. The old adage goes “you’re not in trouble until you lose at home” and Washington took that to heart over their last two games. The Wiz have yet to lose at home dating back to last year’s playoffs and clearly have an “extra gear” in front of their home fans.
2) Miles was excellent in games 1 and 2 of the series and has taken on more of a responsibility with the press. He’s not afraid to speak his mind and act as the veteran for a club that can still use some calm, cool and collected heads when Lowry and DeRozan get frustrated:
Now, to the problem at hand.
Heading into the regular season the question of whether or not the Raptors could actually change their isolation-heavy offence was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. They answered that question with a resounding “[email protected]!k yes we can” to the tune of 59 wins and a first place finish in the Eastern Conference. The question then shifted to whether or not they could keep it up in the playoffs…and after Game 2 people we’re already ready for a sweep. Throw a wrench in their plans or turn up the defensive pressure however, and the Raptors fail to adjust. The passes get tighter and fewer and father between and players like Miles are left to be a stark example of when things go wrong.
During Sunday’s loss Miles played 21 minutes and attempted just 3 threes. He missed all of them, which isn’t even the worst part. He finished with the same number of attempted threes as he did turnovers. When the Wizards hounded him he caved and when the shot was there, he was already in his own head. Simply put, the ball stops when it reaches Miles, and the consequences are crushing when the ball doesn’t go through the hoop. For an offence that re-invented itself so well all season long, it still needs its shooters to make shots.
This isn’t to say that Miles was the only problem on Sunday, but he’s such an anomaly to the offence that he’s put under a microscope every time he misses the hoop. Is that fair? Yes. His primary function is to make threes, especially open ones. There’s still good news for Raptors fans hoping for a turn around from C.J. For starters, he’s followed up every single 0-for game this season with an average of 2 threes a game the next night. He’s also a ridiculous 8-13 from deep at home in the first two games of this series.
It’s Heat-Check time for C.J. Miles, and if the Raptors want to find their touch on the offensive end without moving the ball…he’s going to need to get (and stay) hot.