Scottie Barnes’ domination of Heat shows Raptors can beat any play-in team

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 05: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 05: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors were gearing up for what promised to be one of the most important games of the season against Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat. Not only could Toronto get back to .500 on the season after five straight failed attempts, but they could do so in a game with huge play-in implications.

The Heat came into this game as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning that Toronto would likely square off against them if they end up bumping the Hawks out of the No. 8 seed. If they miss out on that seed, they still might face them if they win a lower-seeded play-in game.

All of this called for Barnes’s masterclass, which he delivered in the first half. Barnes finished the first two quarters with 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists, helping a team that made just one 3-pointer lead at the intermission.

Barnes would finish just shy of a triple-double thanks to 22 points, seven rebounds, and a new career-high 12 assists. More impressively, he didn’t turn the ball over once in 41 minutes.

Toronto took down Miami 106-92, bringing them to 3-1 against the Heat in the regular season and earning an important tiebreaker. Should Barnes play like this in the postseason, the whole playoff picture changes for Toronto.

Scottie Barnes shows Raptors can beat any play-in team in Heat win.

For all of the great things that Barnes can do on a basketball court, one of the main recurring issues that have popped up is a lack of aggression. How many times has he taken just a handful of shots until passing his scoring numbers in the fourth? In a sharp change from the norm, Barnes was a man on a mission from the jump.

Not only was Barnes attacking the basket and hoovering up rebounds, but he put on one of his best passing exhibitions of his career. Games like this are precisely why Toronto might put up with some inconsistency from time to time.

We saw Barnes in the playoffs last season, but he was playing at less than 100% against Philadelphia due to an injury sustained in Game 1. With both he and Pascal Siakam potentially hitting their stride (much to the chagrin of Drew Gooden), the Raptors might be a more formidable offensive foe than they were a few weeks ago.

The Heat may not have had Jimmy Butler in this game, but that shouldn’t detract from Scottie Barnes’ performance. Toronto invested heavily in Barnes to get nights like this consistently. If he can do it against Miami, he can certainly do it against Atlanta or Chicago.

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