1 stud and 1 dud from Raptors’ electrifying win against Heat

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 01: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors puts up a shot over Tyler Herro #14 and Caleb Martin #16 of the Miami Heat (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 01: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors puts up a shot over Tyler Herro #14 and Caleb Martin #16 of the Miami Heat (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Gary Trent Jr. and the Toronto Raptors played in an instant classic when they took down the Miami Heat in triple overtime on Saturday night, and they didn’t have to wait long for a rematch. Even without Kyle Lowry’s return to Canada, this game was not short on storylines.

The Raptors and Heat, both tired on the second night of a back-to-back, looked a bit lackadaisical early on, though Miami pulled ahead on the back of some solid 3-point shooting. Toronto was able to get themselves back into this game thanks to another solid third quarter.

Toronto would win the second half by a 60-44 margin as they sealed a 110-106 victory. With three games in four days, two of them coming against one of the league’s best in Miami, winning all three of them had to feel good for Fred VanVleet and this team.

The Raptors once again had to overcome the lack of an amazing bench in order to pull out a win against an opponent like this. Toronto was able to lean on several impact starters that continued to make big plays down the stretch as the club won their third straight game.

106. 110. 110. 81. Final

Gary Trent Jr. continued to stay hot for the Toronto Raptors.

Just when you think that Trent’s scintillating run of form is going to finally come to an end, he puts forth yet another impressive offensive showing. Trent was once again the leading scorer for the Raptors, as he continued to be a thorn in the side of Erik Spoelstra and the Miami defense.

Trent matched a Raptors franchise record held by DeMar DeRozan when he scored 30 points in his fifth consecutive game. With 33 points on 11-20 shooting and 6-10 from 3-point range, Trent continued to carve up a solid Heat defense with efficiency and a flair for coming through in the clutch.

With OG Anunoby having an off night outside of a few standout plays and Scottie Barnes fizzling out in the second half, Toronto needed every point Trent provided in this one. Trent has been the team’s best player in this recent run of games, as he’s putting the league on notice.

Precious Achiuwa deserves some love in this section. Achiuwa amassed 12 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of work, nailing a couple of big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. After a slow start, he gave this bench the kick in the rear they needed.

The Toronto Raptors bench, outside of Precious Achiuwa, struggled.

Achiuwa was able to make up for some early flubs with a nice all-around game, but his running mates weren’t so lucky. The bench outside of him was so collectively below what was expected of them that they will share this dubious distinction tonight.

Chris Boucher, Justin Champagnie, and Dalano Banton combined for four points on 2-6 from the field. Banton and Boucher had some nice defensive stands in the fourth, but that doesn’t totally overshadow their offensive totals.

While Toronto’s array of quality scorers in the starting lineup can make up for deficiencies like that now and again, is this philosophy going to hold up later in the season?

Admittedly, Nick Nurse is in a tough spot here. Should he take his best players out to give inferior reserves more time? Should he grind his starters to breaking point in the name of wins? There are no easy answers, but these questions could be put to bed if the bench provides more quality and consistency with regards to putting the ball in the basket.

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