Raptors Takeaways: A big obstacle was overcome to steal victory in Miami


Out of the Christmas Day match, the Toronto Raptors returned from their vacation for the Boxing Day match with the hot Miami Heat.

This battle featured the team with the best record in the NBA and the club with the longest league winning streak.

Led by Kawhi Leonard's 30-point performance, the Raptors were able to stop five Heat matches even without Kyle Lowry in the line. Here are four takeaways from sandy battles:

Toronto representative

The Heat may have been wearing their special "Miami Vice" shirt, but the Raptors stole a 106-104 victory on Wednesday.

Left behind by 17 points at one point, Toronto advanced in the second round to surprise Miami. After Dwyane Wade and Leonard swapped the clutch basket in the last minute of the match, Danny Green gave the biggest shot that night when he dropped three open corners with 22 seconds left.

Just like in Memphis on November 27 against the Grizzlies who had a resemblance to the Heat, Toronto seemed to die in the water most of the night. Thanks to the attitude of their entire team that never stopped, the Raptors were able to once again grind victory on the road against physical opponents. Even though this is not one of the prettiest wins of the season, it is the same and will certainly help ease the disappointment of missing out on the match to show off Christmas Day.

Missing JV

When these teams met on November 25, Jonas Valanciunas started at the center of the Raptors and played with the Heat great player, Hassan Whiteside. Valanciunas scored 17 points and 10 rebounds in a very efficient 8-of-10 shot while helping put Whiteside in a foul problem and limiting him to just two points in 12 minutes.

With Valanciunas still sidelined with a thumb injury, it was Serge Ibaka who started in five places in his first match back from knee pain. The 29-year-old looked rusty in his first action since December 16, shooting 2-from-10 from the floor with six points that night.

Defending himself, Ibaka and other members of the Raptors have a problem trying to keep Whiteside at bay. Seven-footer had no trouble getting an easy basket on the offensive end, registering 16 points on 12 shots. He is a monster that protects the paint too and completes the high-plus-22 game.

The game changed at the start of the third quarter when Whiteside was forced to the bench after catching the wrong elbow. Toronto took advantage of his absence and surpassed Miami 37-21 in the frame. By the time Whiteside returned with 10:38 to play in the fourth quarter, the Raptors completely erased their deficit and held an 83-79 advantage.

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Vacation Hangover

Raptors really looked like the team that arrived at the Christmas holiday on Wednesday and struggled to get their game at the start. Toronto worked hard on both ends of the floor in the first half, allowing Miami to shoot 55 percent through the first 24 minutes while converting only 38 percent of their own efforts.

Coming from the worst 25-point loss of the season on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers where they are answered 30 points, the Raptors can once again get nothing from outside the bow before halftime. Their second hot-shooting round – including nine three-folds – temporarily reduced concerns about their three-point finesse, but Nick Nurse's team entered the game ranked 25th in three points and eighth in the effort. The volume is there but the success rate is not.

With enough samples to work on, it's fair to say Toronto will ultimately benefit by adding veteran shooters to the buying market during the season. How big is the impact of such a movement on the club? Philadelphia suffered 17 consecutive wins at the end of last year, thanks largely to the addition of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.

One big reason why do the Raptors need external threats? See below …

See J?

C.J. Miles is basically in the NBA to do one job: produce three points. Through 29 matches this season, the 31-year-old only shot at 28 percent from distance, which made it very difficult to keep him in the field.

Miles didn't see the floor in this game, with Norman Powell and OG Anunoby absorbing the minutes. Miles had the worst statistical season in more than a decade, averaging just five points per game with a 31 percent overall shooting. The cold shooting was clearly not what the Raptors sought from their $ 25 million investment.


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