Toronto Raptors: Three Takeaways from rout vs the Miami Heat

Toronto Raptors - Patrick McCaw (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Patrick McCaw (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors clocked in an impressive display as they dispatched the Miami Heat in a comfortable manner. What did we learn from the game though?

The Toronto Raptors road trip down to South Beach continued on Sunday afternoon, with a late lunch date with the Miami Heat in a game with no playoff ramifications. The Raptors booked their place in the playoffs following the Charlotte Hornets defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks the night before.

Therefore, there was no need for the presence of Kawhi Leonard, who was out due to load management once again. That meant Patrick McCaw would get the start, his first as a member of the Toronto Raptors. McCaw has rightfully earned his place in the rotation since his arrival, a string of gritty and aggressive performances have provided rave reviews.

The first quarter was all about stretching the floor for the Raptors, shooting 70-percent from three on ten attempts. Danny Green had a great start too, making three of his four threes.

Toronto’s three-pointers became a lot more sporadic in the second quarter, and the Heat began to pull themselves back into the game. The big moment of the second quarter was the technical handed out to Kyle Lowry after he had appeared to put his hand on a vulnerable Justise Winslow as he attempted a lay-up, which he subsequently missed.

The Toronto Raptors ended the half on a 14-3 run, where they stretched out their lead to 14 points and dealt a three-point barrage to the Miami Heat. Three-pointers from Patrick McCaw and Serge Ibaka were the standout moments. Courtesy of those looks, the Raptors led 68-54 at half-time.

The Miami Heat started to..heat up in the third quarter and cut the lead down to 12 points, holding the Raptors to 23 points in the quarter. The scoring dried up a little for the Raptors, but Pascal Siakam kept going to the well and was 4-5 in the quarter, with everything coming up the rim. The Heat have the third-best defense in the NBA this season and it began to show, though they still needed to contest with the Raptors defense on the other end.

Once again, the Raptors pulled away from the game in the fourth quarter. The bench unit, paired with Kyle Lowry put the sword into the Miami Heat, outscoring them 34-25. The starters got some much-needed rest at the end of the fourth, with the second night of a back-to-back in Cleveland now firmly in the Raptors sights.

It might make sense for Kawhi Leonard to sit this one out again. The Raptors are a better team than the Cavaliers whether he plays or not, and with nothing riding on this game, maybe we’ll see Nick Nurse tinker a little bit more. It definitely worked today.

Here are my three takeaways from the game.

1. Patrick McCaw as a starter worked well

Patrick McCaw stepped into the starting role for the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon and he did not disappoint at the small forward position.

He had 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 23 minutes of playing time and was impactful on both sides of the ball. McCaw’s role on the team is very simple: he doesn’t need the ball a lot and will run the floor and play aggressive defense, and if he hits his shots that’s great. If he doesn’t, you know you’re still getting productivity on the other end of the court.

The Raptors got results on both ends of the court against the Heat, though, and McCaw even knocked down all three of his three-pointers. McCaw earned his opportunity to start and took the game by the horns.

2. Raptors continue with the teamwork

Following on from the second half rout in New Orleans, the Raptors continued moving the ball incredibly well against the Miami Heat. The Raptors had 30 assists on 42 made field goals, and kept up their superb record when recording over 30 assists in a game. That record now stands at 14-1.

The Raptors moved the ball around with ease, against a usually stout Miami defense. Everyone that stepped foot on the court, bar Chris Boucher, chipped in with an assist. Kyle Lowry went nine better and recorded 10 assists in the game. His fifth game in his last seven where Lowry has had double-digit assist performances.

Their increased ball movement did lead to 21 turnovers, compared to the Heat’s 13 turnovers, but the Raptors still managed to hold the Heat to only 10 points off of those turnovers.

The defense held the Heat to only 29-percent from three, and add eight blocks to the party as well. The Raptors were just the far superior team, and it showed.

3. Three-point shooting was the difference

Without the three ball, the Raptors probably still win this game. But, with it, it was an unsolicited rout. The Raptors knocked down a franchise-record 21 threes in the game, shooting a healthy 52-percent.

Toronto rank in the bottom 10 for three-point percentage this season, shooting 35-percent per game. It was the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Danny Green that did the most damage, as the pair went 11-19 from three, with Norman Powell and Patrick McCaw also hitting multiple threes in the game.

It’s the kind of performance that elevate the Raptors in the playoffs, as the team has traditionally struggled from deep. Having legitimate shooters from deep like Green and Leonard, paired with the likes of Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, could push the Raptors over the edge this postseason.

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