The Toronto Raptors fell short in Tuesday night’s game against the Miami Heat 121-110 in overtime. The loss ends Toronto’s seven-game winning streak and it’s the first blemish on an otherwise perfect home record. The Heat and the Raptors now both have a 15-5 record, tied for second in the Eastern Conference.

Raptors Shooting Struggles

Raptors wing Norman Powell rises for the slam dunk
Norman Powell slams it home

Norman Powell’s 23 points led all scorers. Powell had 13 in the fourth quarter, helping the Raptors force overtime. Pascal Siakam produced a 15 point, 12 rebound double-double with Fred VanVleet pouring in 19. Marc Gasol asserted himself offensively, contributing 14 points.

The game was close despite the Raptors’ poor performance. The Heat’s defensive scheme clogged the paint and the Raptors could not capitalize on the open shots. The Raptors’ 25.6% shooting from three is inexcusable when 86% (36/43) of those shots were open.

Lowry’s Lackluster Return

Kyle Lowry’s poor showing did not help Toronto’s horrendous shooting performance. Lowry’s 11 assists and 6 rebounds were a bright spot but he struggled finding his shot. Lowry shot 11.1% (2/18) from the field and went 0/11 from deep in his return from injury. His 18 shots were the most taken by any player throughout the game, a questionable decision at best. With Fred Vanvleet and Pascal Siakam playing so well in his absence, combining for 45.2 points per game on 44% shooting, Lowry should’ve been slowly eased back into the system. There is little reason for him to dominate the offence as he did against Miami, especially when he’s more effective as a facilitator.

Integrating The Veterans

Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka‘s inclusion into the Raptors’ deeper rotation was a question throughout the Raptors 9-2 run. Coach Nick Nurse‘s system is still effective despite the poor showing against the Heat. The offensive system finds open shots in the half-court while Toronto’s elite defence allowed them to turn 11 Miami turnovers into 17 fast break points. Nurse’s job now is distributing the minutes among the players on this lengthened rotation, while simultaneously dividing the shots. The reigning Eastern Conference Coach of the Month has a tough job ahead of him but solving the puzzle will pay dividends moving forward.

The Toronto Raptors will compete next against the amazing offence of the Houston Rockets. Nick Nurse will have his hands full with trying to contain James Harden and his 39.5 points per game. Tune into the game on December 5th at 7:30 PM/EST to enjoy what will be an entertaining face-off.