Bringing the Heat

In their first meeting of the season, the Toronto Raptors faced the Miami Heat. Undermanned, the Heat looked to steal a game against the Raptors, who went into Wednesday on a 3-game win streak. It was closely contested for most of the night, but Toronto left the door open in the 4th and Miami walked out with the 111-102 win.

It was the Kendrick Nunn show. The 3rd year guard had his best night of the season, putting up 28 points and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench. He was shooting lights out from the field (75%). After sitting out four straight games, Nunn has averaged 17.6 points in his last 3 appearances. He was 4 points shy of outscoring Toronto’s bench, who scored a combined 31 points.

It was a tough shooting night, but Bam Adebayo added 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Goran Dragic, who was a game time decision, and has had a chippy history against the Raptors, had 17 points in 31 minutes. Miami was without Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley and Tyler Herro but their depth was on display, with Kelly Olynyk and Andre Iguodala adding a combined 28 points in the win.

It was a different story for Toronto. For the 7th time this year, they trailed their opponents going into the final 12 minutes. In their 6 previous games, the team is 0-6. It was the same story Wednesday night. This was the Raptors game to lose, and they did. When a team goes scoreless for almost 7 minutes, it is hard to come back from.

Terrence Davis was a great spark for Toronto. In 24 minutes he scored 16 points on 4 made three’s. The intensity was there early, but as the team struggled to make plays, the win slipped away. Although the team forced 18 Miami turnovers, they converted only 20 points off those turnover, on 40% shooting from the field.

Fred VanVleet led the team with 24 points and 9 assists. He has also made a 3 in 46 consecutive games, which is a new Raptors Franchise record. Despite shooting 16.7% from the field, Kyle Lowry helped on defence: he grabbed a team high 10 rebounds and had 1 steal and 1 block.

This was a winnable game. In their last 3 wins, it seemed apparent Nick Nurse was closer to working out his rotations; who plays well together and for how long. Pre-game he emphasized Toronto’s hustle culture and how important it is for the teams success. If they miss shots and get back on defence, there’s still a fighting chance. In Wednesday’s loss, they missed shots and lacked defensive awareness down the stretch, and it cost them. When they are locked in on defence, the offence tends to follow. Toronto has struggled against Miami’s zone defence, but they have played them more than enough times to try and find ways to figure it out. They get that opportunity again on Friday night.

Game Note: Aron Baynes had his first positive night for Toronto since the beginning of the season. In 13 minutes he had 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 points.

Next up… Toronto will look to avenge their loss to Miami as they face off for the second time in 3 days. Tip off is 7:30p at Amalie Arena.

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