Leading against the Miami Heat at halftime with a score of 66-64, it seemed Scottie Barnes, Dennis Schroder, and the Toronto Raptors were close within reach of victory as they rallied through an early 15-point deficit courtesy of a hot shooting night from Caleb Martin.
With a relatively quiet first half from Jimmy Butler and the Heat lacking two key starters in Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo, the Raptors certainly had a very winnable game on their hands. Nevertheless, they stumbled and fell to the Miami Heat with a final score of 112-103.
So what exactly went wrong? Well, for starters, Dennis Schroder (of all players) led the team in field goals attempted with 18. Schroder is certainly no slouch, but on a Raptors squad with both Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes present, it is quite odd for the point guard Schroder to shoot more than both of them.
Add in the fact that Dennis only made four out of the 18 shots, bringing his field goal percentage to a miserable 22%, and last night comes off as head-scratching. On the other hand, Siakam had a great night, going 9-for-13 from the field, while OG Anunoby also had a solid outing with an efficient 61% shooting night with five made 3-pointers out of ten.
Schroder's style of play contributed to a rough night from Barnes, as he took just three first-half shots (Schroder had 11) and only had 2 points before a fourth-quarter surge. The Raptors need to tell Schroder to be less ball-dominant, as the current style of play is hurting everyone involved.
The Toronto Raptors must minimize Dennis Schroder, lean on Scottie Barnes.
The poor performance from Scottie Barnes raises concerns following the loss. Given the Heat's lack of adequate rim protection, it spelled a perfect opportunity for Barnes to dominate the game and attack the basket. A horrid 29% shooting night from the field, to go with some passivity on offense, speaks to that.
Circling back to Schroder, his wild style of play shows it can take away the offensive flow from others and ultimately cost the team a victory. It makes sense to demand the ball more if others are struggling, but this game was not one of those nights. Even Gary Trent Jr., who's had a pretty rough start to begin the season, found a nice groove against the Heat.
Yet it was Schroder who led the fray with an insane number of shot attempts. Schroder is a skillful passer who can create his shot when needed, but he needs to play less hero ball ala Fred VanVleet and better involve his teammates, especially a young player with massive upside in Barnes.
The fact Schroder has named himself the go-to guy in the clutch, and no one has challenged him, says a lot.
Schroder has legitimate utility on this team, but Rajakovic needs to lay down the law and let Schroder know the offense must run through Barnes.