Sixth time’s the charm: Raptors finally climb back to .500

Raps break even for the first time since December 9th.

It took over three months and five previous failed tries but the Raptors are back at .500.

Miami was missing Jimmy Butler in this game, after being ruled out with a neck injury. The Heat were already a small team and losing one of their big wings didn’t help. Toronto crushed Miami with a 62-36 points in the paint advantage. Neither team shot well from three and the Heat’s anemic offence (last in points per game) struggled to find a shot outside of Tyler Herro (33 points) for most of the game.

The Raptors held the eighth seed for a few minutes before Atlanta pulled out a key win at home against Cleveland. So for now, Toronto remains in ninth after losing the season series 2-1 to the Hawks.

Scottie setting the tone

Toronto was down 10 just a few minutes into this game but Barnes scoring limited further early damage. He scored 12 in the first quarter alone, and 18 in the half. The Raptors closed both the first and second quarters on runs to take the lead, which they never relinquished. Scottie found a couple open spots in Miami’s zone for midrange jumpers, and then used his size and athleticism for other baskets.

Barnes court vision really shined in this game. Along with frequent zone usage, the Heat also trapped quite often. Barnes routinely found teammates with Miami’s top 10 defence out of position for a career-high 12 assists and ZERO turnovers. Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby also found cutters in similar ways. The Raptors tied a season high with 32 assists for the game. This helped offset an ice cold 1-16 first half from three (worst this season) and was a key factor in Toronto’s massive paint points advantage.

Quick shoutout to Precious Achiuwa. He was the recipient of a few cutting finishes from Anunoby. Scottie found Precious twice in the fourth to extend the Raptors lead. Achiuwa finished with 12 points and two threes, his first time scoring in double figures or knocking down multiple treys this month. Achiuwa ended up playing more minutes (25) than Jakob Poeltl (23) against his former team.

Nurse was asked about Scottie’s contributions.

Pascal’s All-NBA case

Outside of missing all five of his three point attempts, Siakam had another solid game with 26 points, nine boards and five assists. Pascal has dropped 25 or more in five of his last seven contests following a slump earlier in the month.

He was asked about his All-NBA candidacy post game, which obviously is a major topic with a potential supermax contract (35 percent of the cap) hanging in the balance.

Kyle Lowry

The GROAT (to most Raptors fans) was back in the building, but not the same K-Low that Toronto saw for nine seasons. He’s now 37, coming off the bench on a minutes restriction and only made one field goal. Lowry received a warm reception from fans when checking into the game as you would expect. It will be interesting to see what role Lowry will have for Miami in the play-in/playoffs.

Siakam was also asked about Lowry’s season.

Up Next: The Raptors only have one home game left (season finale vs Milwaukee), illustrating how massive this win was. Five game road trip on deck, starting in Philadelphia on Friday.

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