Morning Coffee – Wed, Mar 29

Raptors give Lowry a nice homecoming then thump the Heat

Scottie Barnes’ development needs to remain top priority for Raptors – The Athletic

Barnes also threw an alley-oop pass to Chris Boucher that ended in a wedgie. Listen to “No Dunks”!

Welcome back to .500, Raptors. They fell to 13-14 on Dec. 11 in Orlando and hadn’t been back to level water since. Atlanta beat Cleveland, so the Raptors remain tied with the Hawks for eighth place but technically are behind them since the Hawks own the tiebreaker. The Raptors own the tiebreaker with the Heat, though.

You’ve got to love an old-fashioned “gimme dat” steal. O.G. Anunoby, just being unkind to Tyler Herro. I also laughed out loud when he bullied Victor Oladipo into giving up the ball in the third quarter. Similarly on brand: VanVleet with the “block” while guarding Kevin Love in the post.

An offensive touch to appreciate from Anunoby, too: Instead of wasting time trying to post up the shorter but plenty-stout Kyle Lowry, he looked to pass. First, he found Barnes, who managed two free throws, and then, once doubled on the baseline, he hooked up Achiuwa.

Nurse had seen the movie before: Lowry, letting the ball roll near the end of a quarter, trying to buy every last second to get his team a two-for-one opportunity. He yelled to his team to pressure Lowry at the end of the second quarter. It didn’t do it effectively. Lowry picked up the ball, sprinted forward and drew a foul with 30.6 seconds left. Nurse was extremely annoyed. Never change, Lowry. Later, Achiuwa fell for another old Lowry trick.

After playing just six minutes Sunday night after returning from a hamstring injury, Achiuwa checked in with four minutes left in the first quarter. With the Heat playing a lot of zone and not having a post threat offensively, Nurse likely felt Achiuwa’s foot speed and comparative offensive ability trumped Christian Koloko’s rim deterrence. Achiuwa did well early on, puncturing the defence off some crisp Raptors ball movement and hanging well with Bam Adebayo. He had a forceful 12 points and nine rebounds.

The NBA announced the schedule for the Play-In Tournament on Tuesday. The season ends Sunday, April 9, with the games to determine the seventh seed in the playoffs, between the seventh- and eighth-place finishers in each conference, on April 11. The next night, April 12, the No. 9 seeds will play the No. 10 seeds. The winners of those games will play the losers of the first games to determine the eighth seeds in the playoffs on April 14.

Raptors gain ground in play-in race with key win over Heat – Sportsnet

The Raptors took a big step Tuesday night with a solid 106-92 win over Miami that pulled them within two games of the seventh-place Heat with six games to play. Having the tiebreaker in hand should help too, although that they don’t have the tie-breaker with the Atlanta Hawks, who remain in eighth place with the same record as Toronto, could end up being the difference.

Another issue for the Raptors: their next five games are on the road and feature a stop in Philadelphia and two games in Boston sandwiched around a pair of games in Charlotte before coming home to host the Milwaukee Bucks.

Not easy, but a team can dream about superstars resting for the playoffs or something.

Toronto caught a break Tuesday when Heat star Jimmy Butler sat out with a sore neck, but the Raptors played like they were ready for anybody as they improved to 38-38 with a 3-1 homestand, the first time they’ve been at the breakeven mark since Dec. 9.

The Raptors were sparked by Scottie Barnes, who scored 12 of his 22 points in the opening quarter and beasted the Heat all night while adding a career-high 12 assists, seven rebounds, three steals and not committing a single turnover.

“We ran the same play about three times in a row [in the second half],” said coach Nick Nurse, referring to how the Raptors were able to take advantage of Barnes’ passing to solve the Heat zone. “It was hit Scottie at the free throw line, and he was wheeling and dealing from there. His size lets him be open even if they put a guy with him you can still kind of throw it up and he can still catch it.”

Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby finished with 26 and 22 points, respectively, while combining for 10 more assists, the box score a perfect encapsulation of what the Raptors hope they can get from their trio of big wings if they are firing on all cylinders.

“I think that it all boils down to some good spacing, cutting, passing, catching, finishing,” said Nurse, whose team had 32 assists on 45 field goal attempts. “I think we were pretty good in our cutting, pretty good locations of our spacing, our relocations of our spacing, and those guys I thought did a good job of getting off the basketball.”

Said Barnes: “Every game is different, teams play defence differently. Today I was just finding reads, making plays. Like I said, everybody was in the right spots and people was making shots. There was corner threes, back doors. They were double-teaming out of the post so cutting, everything just worked out well today”

The Raptors overall were just 8-of-36 from deep for the game but were able to overcome that by generating a 15-12 edge in offensive rebounds and a 15-9 edge in turnovers.

The Heat were led by Tyler Herro, who finished with 33 points and made six threes on 10 tries but was victimized by the Raptors on defence whenever they got a chance. Miami shot 10-of-33 from three and fell to 40-36.

Miami Heat drop another key game to fall to 1-3 on year against Raptors – All U Can Heat

And though the Miami Heat would make a comeback attempt late in the game, that would be with around just three minutes left, where the Raptors had gotten out to nearly a 20-point lead off the back of their two-point makes alone. That is just unacceptable.

A team should never be able to do that in that manner. It’s one thing for a team to be beating you while not hitting the three-ball— but for a team to be blowing you out while not making many threes is another thing.

Again, it shows a total lack of effort and that’s what was the Miami Heat’s downfall on Tuesday, just as it seemed to be on Saturday.

The Miami Heat were without Jimmy Butler on Tuesday, something that they hope to remedy on Wednesday in the second leg of a back-to-back set of games in New York. They need to have a better effort when facing the Knicks or they can just go ahead and book a ticket to the play-in round.

And with the math setting them up for a chance to face the Raptors in the first round of that situation, they probably want to do all they can to avoid the team that has already managed to beat them three times in there four meetings thus far on the regular season.

Raptors throttle Heat 106-92 – Hot Hot Hoops

Miami continued to be sloppy with the basketball to start the third. They were also suffocated by the Raps’ defense as Toronto continued to build its lead on the other end. Bam struggled to shoulder the entire scoring load, forcing up shots and the entire Heat offense followed suit. After falling out of the rotation Oladipo saw many minutes and just didn’t deliver offensively shooting less than 30% from the field. As Toronto surged, Tyler Herro attempted to pull Miami out of its hole – but it just wasn’t effective even after having 14 of Miami’s 18 quarter points. With the Raps up 17, Miami was looking at an uphill battle in the fourth quarter. A true turd quarter once again.

Duncan Robinson saw minutes to start the fourth with the Heat getting absolutely desperate. The Raptors continued to punish the Heat for every lapse offensively, but with Cody Zeller playing hard-nosed tough basketball and Duncan showing that he still has something of a shooting touch Miami was able to at least put some points on the board. Herro made an attempt to put the team on his back cutting the lead to 10. But Miami’s inability to string together a run or get a stop let Toronto run away with this one. The Heat better hope they don’t match up with the Raptors in the play-in because if they get outplayed like this it won’t be pretty. An embarrassing effort and a full showcase of what’s wrong with this Miami Heat team.

Barnes comes up big, Toronto Raptors defeat Miami Heat 106-92 – Raptors HQ

Toronto used a big third quarter to put the Heat back on their heels, and although Miami made a big push in the fourth, cutting what was once a 19-point lead all the way down to 10, the Raptors made enough plays down the stretch to seal the deal.

Despite the win, the Raptors didn’t leapfrog the Atlanta Hawks for 8th place in the Eastern Conference, as the Hawks beat the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 120-118.

Still, it’s Toronto’s third straight win, and 6th in their last 8 games — and it might have been their best all-around effort in that stretch.

Scottie Barnes had a fantastic all-around night, notching 22 points, grabbing 7 boards, and dishing a career-high 12 assists. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 26 points, and notched win board and five assists. O.G. Anunoby chopped in 22 of his own.

Tyler hero led all scorers with 33 points, and hit 6 of his 10 three-pointers. Bam Adebayo added 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did Raptors fans dirty, by opting not to start Kyle Lowry. Sure, Lowry’s been coming off the bench for a few weeks now for the Heat, but with Jimmy Butler out, and the game being in Toronto, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to let the GROAT soak in some adoration from the crowd before tip-off. Alas, Spo started Victor Oladipo, despite Oladipo being out of the rotation the past two weeks. Lowry didn’t even get an ovation when he finally checked in — as it was between quarters! Coach Spo, you robbed KLow and the fans of showing their mutual appreciation. You’re dead to me.

Anyway — Lowry finished with just six points on 1-for-6 shooting.

After a slow start, the Raptors climbed back to take a 7-point lead into halftime, and then turned on the gas in the third. They opened the period on a 10-5 spurt, with 8 of the 10 points coming in the paint — including impressive finishes from Fred VanVleet and Siakam at the rim, and with Barnes muscling up a baby hook after a nice little dump off from Siakam. The only two points that didn’t come in the paint came on a sweeeet stepback J from Siakam.

Spoelstra called timeout with 8:18 left in the quarter with his team trailing 63-52, but the Raptors kept coming. Anunoby drained a three, Siakam finished in transition, and Barnes again found O.G. under the hoop for a dunk, pushing the lead to 70-54.

The only Heat player who showed up in the frame was Herro, and boy, did he show up! He scored 14 of Miami’s first 18 points in the quarter, from all over the floor; he hit 6 of his first 7 shots.

But despite Herro’s heroics, the Raptors wouldn’t be denied in the quarter, and Precious Achiuwa dunked all over Cody Zeller to prove the point with a minute to go in the frame.

Raptors outmuscle depleted Heat, remain eighth place in East | The Star

The Raptors won in unorthodox fashion for this era, shooting just 8-for-36 from three-point range but dominating all over the court otherwise.

“The advantage we had probably at some of the wing positions was size and I give our guys credit — they found mismatches,” coach Nick Nurse said.

Siakam had 26 points, Anunoby 22 and Barnes 22 to go along with a career-high 12 assists in a tremendous night.

Barnes began the night aggressively — 12 of his points came in the first 11 minutes — and shredded the Heat all night.

“I thought he had a really good energetic game,” Nurse said of Barnes. ”He just had his head up and was moving with the ball quickly. Obviously the 12 assists were huge. He was finding a lot of people out of the next pass.

“Very good job of vision with him tonight on finding guys for easy buckets, setting guys up.”

Barnes downplayed the significance of his performance.

“I was just playing the game,” he said. “Whoever was coming towards me, I was just trying to make the right read off of it. When I saw them coming to double off the post I just used the height advantage, made the right reads, passed it out and guys were open. People were cutting, corners were open, people were making shots.”

And when the Raptors put the game away in the third quarter, they were just 3-for-10 from three-point range but an astonishing 10-for-11 from inside the arc.

It was more than enough given a defence that held Miami to just 40 per cent shooting from the field.

“I think that from about midway through the first quarter on … we really flew at guys to challenge shots,” Nurse said. “We got a piece of a couple threes, we made a couple guys re-load and still re-landed and challenged. We did a good job of making them miss out there.

“I felt like we had a lot of possessions where they were searching for a shot. They’d get one but it’d be pretty tough at the end of (the shot clock) and it felt like we created a decent number of turnovers.”

The Heat, playing without star Jimmy Butler, remain in seventh place in the East but don’t have the tiebreak advantage over either sixth-place Brooklyn or eighth-place Toronto.

The game was a typical Raptors-Heat contest for most of the night: not always esthetically pleasing but full of toughness, resilience and grit.

4 thoughts on “Morning Coffee – Wed, Mar 29”

Leave a Comment