By Frank McLean
After watching Game Four of this Miami Heat-Toronto Raptors conference semi-final, you might scratch your head and ask, was that really professional basketball I just watched? That game was ugly from both team’s perspective.
Missing their big men in the middle , Jonas Valanciunas for Toronto and Hassan Whiteside for Miami, both teams had to improvise so to speak.
What hurts from a Raptors standpoint is that they had an opportunity to win this game and they let it slip away.
The problem was they couldn’t stop Dwyane Wade who scored 30 points in the win and willed the Heat to the win, that’s what the great players in the game do.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey sat down with the media yesterday when the team returned from Miami after opting to spend the night in South Florida instead of flying home after the game.
“Everyone’s upset we lost, which they should be, but nobody’s pushing the panic button because it’s such a competitive series,” Casey said.
It has been a competitive series for sure, even though the basketball has not been pretty.
“They’re not shooting the ball well, it’s written history,” Casey added. “We know about it, Miami knows it. We’re trying to do things to get around it. We’re trying to create more offence with those guys struggling the way they are, but again, they’re going to be our guys because at some point they’re going to get their rhythm, their shot. Someone else is going to step up and they may be more of a decoy or whatever, but’s not like we’re going to bench Kyle and DeMar and go away from them. They’re our guys. We believe in them. They’re our two all-stars and sooner or later they’re going to come through or be a part of what we’re trying to do.”
The struggles again go back to the lack of scoring from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The duo were a combined 6-28 from the field for 19 points. Lowry fouled out and that did not help. DeRozan was 4-17 and has a thumb injury that is hindering his shooting.
“I thought that was our biggest nemesis, containing the basketball,” Casey continued. “Dwyane Wade was just putting his head down and attacking our paint. I don’t care if you have Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell back there. One dribble to the rim, there’s not many big guys that are going to (get over to help).
“Our defence hasn’t been atrocious, but it could be better,” Casey said. “It could help our offence more by getting stops, getting out on the break a little more.”
The Raptors have been decent on defense. The Heat averaged 108 points a game against Charlotte and the Raptors have held them to under a 100 in this series.
Toronto can still win this series.
They must attack Wade and make life difficult for him.
Lowry can’t foul out of the game early like he did in Game Four. He needs another big scoring game like Game Three.
If DeMar DeRozan’s thumb is hurting, he needs to become a Jose Calderon and be a ball distributor and set his teammates up for the perfect shot.
Let’s see what happens, it might not be pretty, but ugly wins count the same as the pretty one’s.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.