The Toronto Raptors close out preseason action with a loss to the Miami Heat.
Attention has now been shifted towards the regular season, as the preseason concluded on Friday night for the Toronto Raptors. Although it was the final game, there were a few storylines; such as Kyle Lowry playing his first preseason game. Despite the meaningless loss, there were multiple good and bad signs to take away from the Raptors’ final preseason game. Here are three key takeaways from the Raptors’ loss to the Miami Heat.
#1: No rust for Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry made his season debut against the Miami Heat and didn’t miss a beat. In just 27 minutes of action, Lowry had a game-high 25 points. A great sign for the Raptors, as the heart and soul of the team, looks to be in midseason form already.
Kyle Lowry is in the last year of his contract, which means he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. With the crop of point guards as good as it is in today’s landscape of the NBA, expect Lowry to play superb basketball with the intention of getting a worthwhile contract.
Lowry has been a player who ages like fine wine. Raptor fans could potentially be seeing K-Low’s best year with the Raptors yet.
#2: Perimeter defense needs some improvement
Over the past few seasons, the Raptors have been known for their stellar work on the defensive end. However, the defense seemed to be a bit slow on Friday night’s loss. Rotations were slow, help defense was non-existent, which led to a lot of wide-open three-point opportunities for the Miami Heat.
In the first half, Heat shooting guard Max Strus was killing the Raptors from beyond the arc. The shots he was getting weren’t difficult contested shots, they were uncontested with defenders running late.
KZ Opala was the main perpetrator towards dismantling the Raptors perimeter defense. He was stellar throughout the game, shooting 6 of 10 from three. He was able to figure out a big flaw within the Raptors defensive scheme, which was a lack of discipline on defense.
Many times players were flying out at shooters, leaving their feet and biting on almost every fake. A tendency we aren’t accustomed to seeing from a Nick Nurse coached team. Albeit, it was only a preseason game, but the regular season is right around the corner. Being more sound on defense is going to be essential in Toronto’s title aspirations.
#3: Bench needs to be more impactful
The days of the original ‘Bench Mob’ might be days of the past, but the need for a new ‘Bench Mob’ is going to be much needed for the Raptors to be successful this season.
It’s safe to say the Raptors don’t have a top 10 player in the NBA. They don’t have the luxury to depend on a Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden to carry them to victory; playing team led basketball is what’s going to result in wins. In order for that to happen, the bench needs to be consistent day in and day out.
Off days are to be expected, however, the Raptors bench depth is so strong that there shouldn’t be a lack of productivity for the bench as a collective. Norman Powell can be the star one night and another night it could be Terence Davis.
The energy the bench brings will be pivotal, especially since there aren’t going to be those fans in Scotiabank Arena providing it for the Raptors.