1 stud and 1 dud from hard-fought Raptors loss against Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 17: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 17: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors may not have been able to consummate their reunion with Kyle Lowry during a road matchup against the Miami Heat, but Pascal Siakam, Nick Nurse, and the rest of the team still had quite a tall task ahead of them against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors got off to a hot start against Miami, but a team that is lacking in depth to a frankly painful degree found out just how barren the cupboards are. Miami stormed back and took a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter because of a paper-thin Toronto second unit.

The Raptors ultimately fell to Miami 104-99, as the combination of Tyler Herro making everything in the clutch and a triple-double from Jimmy Butler was enough to sink Toronto and hand them their third loss in four games. The Raptors are seeing the momentum they picked up on their winning streak ebb away.

There was one member of the team who deserves a hefty amount of criticism for how he performed. Even without some of their big names in a hostile environment, a few individual Raptors players stepped up.

Final. 99. 81. 104. 110

Scottie Barnes led the charge for the Toronto Raptors.

After a few games in which he looked out of it due to his knee injury, Barnes made sure to prove to the NBA that he is ready to resume his Rookie of the Year race. While he didn’t have the most efficient day from the field, the fact that he was able to help in so many different ways is what helped him win this award.

Barnes recorded 16 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in this game while playing the same switch-heavy brand of on-ball defense that he has become known for. His highlight reel picked up yet another sensational play this evening in the form of a breakaway slam.

While Precious Achiuwa’s rebounding expertise and Chris Boucher’s quality scoring off of the bench, Barnes’ defense, rebounding, and expert passing helped him show flashes of the star he will eventually become. After turning it on in the second half, Barnes proved he can return to his old self.

Nick Nurse deserves some blame for the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors may have saddled Nurse with one of the league’s worst benches this season, but that is no excuse for the rotation that he unveiled tonight. In a league where bench depth is more valuable than ever, Toronto overworked their starters to the point of exhaustion.

The only Raptors player who came off the bench in this contest were Justin Champagnie and Chris Boucher. While Boucher had a slid game and was on the floor more often than not, Champagnie played just nine minutes and failed to score. Playing seven guys against any team, let alone a quality opponent like Miami, is a recipe for disaster.

While Svi Mykhailiuk and Yuta Watanabe aren’t exactly the second coming of Ray Allen and Reggie Miller when it comes to their shooting skill off of the bench, they need to get at least a little bit of run in the rotation. The threat of a shooter needs to exist, otherwise the paint will get sealed off.

The Raptors were clearly sucking wind near the end of that game. When everyone who is supposed to lead your team to victory has played over 30 minutes against a very physical, experienced team, it’s no wonder that they started to slip up late.

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