Our Toronto Raptors engaged in a hard-nose battle against the Miami Heat, ultimately losing 84-76. This is Toronto’s second consecutive loss against the Miami Heat this season, losing them the season series. This moves the Raptors’ record to 23-12.

The Heat Phenomenon

The Raptors’ 76 points are their lowest mark of the season by a significant margin, being 12 points lower than their 88 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 11. The last time Toronto scored this low was ironically against the Miami Heat in 2015, where they lost 96-72.

Watching the game, it seemed like Toronto wouldn’t be able to hit water if they fell out of a boat. The Raptors had a horrendously low 14.3% (6/42) shooting percentage from beyond the arc.  This marks the lowest for the Raptors since March 11, 2017, where they shot an abysmal 13.3% (2/15) against the Miami Heat.

Breaking the Zone

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra utilizes an effective game plan against the Raptors’ modern style of play. Miami uses a plethora of zone defences that Toronto has trouble breaking. To beat most zone defences the offence has to operate from the inside. Without Marc Gasol passing out of the top of the key the Raptors struggled to find consistent success. Toronto’s attempts to beat the zone using slashing to collapse the defence were ineffective. This strategy will always fail if a team is shooting 14%. Combined with the Raptors inability to make shots, the Heat were able to consistently collapse their defence and effectively forced Toronto to shoot.

Top Performing Raptor

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is an absolute spark plug for Toronto. The energy he brings when he is on the floor is a phenomenal asset to the team and alongside his more tangible assets makes him an extremely valuable player. His defensive tenacity, awareness and ability to confidently attack the basket allows him opportunities that are unique to him. His 13 points and 7 rebound night does not standout on a stat sheet. However it comes with the ability to switch consistently on defence, as he is able to adequately defend all positions on switches. His constant attacking also earned him six free throws. 

Up Next for the Raptors

The Raptors will head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets (16-17) on Saturday night. The Nets are expected to insert Caris LeVert into the rotation after seven weeks of injury. Tune in as Toronto fights for their first win of the new year.