Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat have had the Raptor’s number throughout this season. The Toronto Raptors broke that trend on Monday’s game with a 107-103 victory. Despite the Toronto win, Miami (43-25) has officially taken the season series 2-1. With the win, Toronto extends their win streak to six games, the longest active streak in the NBA. The Raptors continue to sit pretty as the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference with a 48-18 record, 4.5 games ahead of the 3rd seed Boston Celtics.

Playoff Potential

As it stands, the Heat need to beat the 1st seeded Milwaukee Bucks to face the Raptors in the playoffs. Toronto would have to beat the 3rd seeded Boston Celtics. In a seven game series Toronto would have their work cut out for them. On average the Raptors score 112.8 points on 45% shooting. Against Miami those averages plummet to 97.7 points per game on a lowly 37.2% average.

Rock the Dragon

Goran Dragic continues to be a thorn in the Raptors’ claw. His 11 point explosion late in the third quarter allowed the Heat to comeback from down 17. He finished with 25 points on the night. ‘The Dragon’ has averaged 19 points against the Raptors this season while coming off the bench and playing only 25 minutes per game.

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Steady as Always

Fred VanVleet was an absolute force on Monday. ‘Steady Freddy’ poured in a career-high 36 points on lights out 50% (8/16) shooting from the field, and 58.3% (7/12) shooting from beyond the arc. While he was a one man army on offence he decided to spread the love and dished out 4 assists. He also battled for 5 rebounds.

While in The Bubble, VanVleet has excelled. His 48.1% shooting over the last two contests is a significant increase on his 41.2% average on the season. Those averages have further extended to his three point shooting. Over the last two contests VanVleet is shooting a stellar 52.6% from deep, a significant increase from his 39.5% average for the season.

Worrisome Raptors Reserves

The Raptors bench, a staple of their game, has not looked impressive over the last two games. Since the games in The Bubble began, Toronto’s bench has ranked dead last in points per game (18.5), field goal percentage (34.8), free throw attempts (1) and steals (1). The connection between those stats is clear. A low amount of free throw attempts alludes to a lack of aggressiveness, and a lack of steals means the team is not able to get out and score on the fast break for easy points. This is the main problem the Raptors have to rectify in order to see a deep playoff run this post-season.Image

Coach Nick Nurse mitigated this problem by sliding Serge Ibaka to the bench, bolstering their offence. Serge poured in 15 points and battled for 6 rebounds in the contest. Pascal Siakam slid to the starting power forward position and contributed an efficient 22 point performance. He also produced 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in the contest.

Up Next for the Raptors

The Raptors face the Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic (32-36) on Wednesday August 5th at 8PM/EST. The Raptors look to sweep the season series and extend their win streak against the Magic to 8 games. Tune in tonight to enjoy an exciting Raptors match.