Game No. 52: Heat 113, Raptors 101

The “Hollywood as Hell” Heat on a Friday night, a sold out Air Canada Centre and a crowd that was just waiting for a reason to explode. The atmosphere was set for a great night of basketball in Toronto, and the undermanned Raptors did their part in trying to deliver.

The Raps were able to undo a horrible start with an improved effort, but ultimately, the talent gap between the two teams took precedence.

Here are some thoughts on the game.

1- This game played out a lot like the Raptors’ home loss to the Lakers in February, where Toronto fell behind a vastly superior team out of the gate, fought back to get back in the game, and then fell apart to take another home defeat. On Friday, the Raptors found themselves down 16-2 within minutes. The Heat never seemed like they wanted to go in for the kill though, and the Raps picked up their intensity level to hang around, cutting the deficit to four after one quarter and eventually sending the game to the fourth quarter tied at 83. I don’t know if the result was ever really in question, but the Raptors gave us reason to believe until the Heat threw one last knockout punch in the final minutes.

2- Another similarity between this game and the loss to the Lakers was the unbalanced officiating down the stretch. Yes, the Heat only took five more free throws than the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan had a game-high 10 free throw attempts, and the teams finished with 16 personal fouls a piece. But if you watched this game, you know which team the refs were siding with in the fourth quarter. The defining moment for me was Dwyane Wade managing to draw a foul on Jose Calderon despite leaning in and smacking Calderon in the face with the ball (Jose was given a tech for arguing), while at the other end, Wade flopped on a phantom elbow from James Johnson and drew an offensive foul. The big three of LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh combined for just two personal fouls in 111 total minutes. This team is already talented enough to win its share of ball games. They don’t need anymore help from the refs.

3- After two visits from the Heat over the last couple of seasons, one thing has become clear, they’re not quite the draw I thought they’d still be in year two. Any time a team has three All Stars and two future Hall of Famers, they’re going be worth watching and a team that brings people to the arena, but in all honesty, did either of Chris Bosh’s two returns to Toronto with his superstar teammates even amount to half of the hype and buzz Vince Carter generated for his first five or six returns to the ACC? Heck, I don’t even think Miami brought the same buzz into Toronto that the Lakers brought this season. I don’t know whether to blame it on the fact that Bosh is just too dry to generate much of a response from fans or to simply blame it on the fact that our attention span and focus on a sports craze is as short as ever. Whatever it is, the Heat hype has seemingly already started to fade.

4- From an individual standpoint, there were a few Raptors performances worth mentioning. Jose Calderon’s 16 assists made it five straight games with 10 or more for the Spaniard and increased his total to 74 assists over seven games since his return to the lineup. DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani were a formidable offensive duo, combining for 55 points on 19-of-34 shooting, but neither did much of anything else on the floor to help the Raptors (though at least DeRozan got to the line 10 times). The most encouraging performance came from Amir Johnson, who put up a double-double of 12 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. With Aaron Gray’s play beginning to slow down, I wonder if another strong showing or two from Amir will get him back into the starting lineup before the season is over.

5- As obnoxious as I find the Heat, I’m not naive enough to ignore the fact that they’re a great team and are obviously very capable of winning an NBA championship this season. Having said that, and despite the abundance of talent they possess between three players, I still don’t think they are the best team in the NBA, or even in the Eastern Conference for that matter. The Bulls and Thunder are the better teams and the more balanced teams, in terms of how their talent is spread out throughout the various positions and the bench. I know LeBron and the Heat turned it on against the Bulls in the East Final last season, but if Derrick Rose is healthy, Chicago can even the score this year.

By the way, did you catch Bosh’s dunk to give the Heat a 12-point lead in the final seconds? More importantly, did you catch Chris get all excited about it and talk smack as if he did something meaningful? It’s because he’s a tough guy, you know, the kind of tough guy that splashes around by himself in a wading pool for the Maxim cameras. I’ve always been a fan of Bosh’s game, but has there ever been a more accurate assessment of him than Kevin Durant’s “fake tough guy” claim?

6- A large portion of the crowd roared when the Raptors eclipsed the 100-point mark (free pizza) in a losing cause again, but on this night, they weren’t even close to being the most disappointing fans in the building. That title goes to the hundreds of “fans” who showed up in Heat jerseys in a feeble attempt to pass as supporters. Give me a friggin break. I used to see a handful of Wade jerseys in the stands when the Raptors would host the Heat in the old days. Now all of a sudden there’s a plethora of Miami fans living 2400 km away in Toronto? It’s bad enough that non deserving “fans” in Miami are trying to play the part of passionate fanatics right now, but to see weak-minded followers in different markets latching on to any bandwagon they think can deliver instant gratification is simply pathetic.

Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson – 30 Min, 12 Pts, 6-8 FG, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO (As good as Jose was, and as strong an offensive game as DeMar and Andrea had, Amir was probably the most complete Raptor in this game in terms of playing on both ends of the floor)

Heat Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade – 36 Min, 30 Pts, 12-19 FG, 1-2 3PT, 5-7 FT, 6 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk (Bosh and LeBron were each dominant as well, as the Big Three combined for 86 points)

Comments (16)

  1. Did anyone else catch how disinterested the entire team seemed to be that first 5 minutes of the game, particularily Bargnani? Most, if not all of the first 16 Miami points were due to his lack of effort contesting shots and rebounding. I know his defence is never good, but it’s also never usually THAT bad. He should have been taken out of the game much earlier.

    I don’t know what they said to him after that, but it worked..offensively at least. Still only 1 rebound in 39 minutes.

    • Definitely noticed. As I said, the start was just horrible. As for Bargnani, he was especially lifeless in the first five minutes, and if I remember correctly, Dwane Casey actually sat him quite early.

      • Ya, he sat him after the first 5 minutes. I’m actually surprised he stayed out that long. After seeing him stand around and watch for the most part. He deserved to be taken out a lot sooner than that.

        • I don’t really understand why he was even put back in. After his play on defense lately, and how he started yesterday’s game, I would have sat him and kept him on the bench the entire game to send a message.

          I’m a big fan of what Casey’s done, but Bargnani barely played defense last night, and he still played 39 minutes.

          Not that DeRozan was much better, but he looked like he was, at least, trying, for most of the game.

          I simply don’t see Casey truly holding players accountable.

          • Yep. Actually Tim, that’s exactly what I would have done. Bench him, and hold him accountable. There’s no excuse for laziness, let alone to that extent.

            It’s almost as if theres a double standard for Bargnani, and its frustrating to watch him get away with it.

          • well…he never brought Gray back in…

            So, in fact, casey does play favs.
            Many think Gray was starting off bad…but he was trying to cover every thime Bargs missed an assignment.

            One time I saw Gray end up covering the same guy as Brags…and THAT was Gray’s error.
            Other than that…if Gray tried to play harder to stop Barg’s missed defense HE would have gotten fouls withing the first 4 minutes he played.

            So why did he never get another chane to get more playing time?????

          • I have to side with Casey on that one, not because Gray was playing poorly, but that that matchup was such that he shouldn’t have even started. Miami has a very mobile frontcourt, not what Gray is good at defending. Amir or Davis should have started.

            Jack even mentioned that the pace of the game suited Amir much more than Gray, and I agree with him on that.

    • I know the Heat shot 57% from the field so rebound opportunities were few and far between but one rebound and all the times Wade was just allowed to walk to the basket can’t be overlooked. It’s even hard to acknowledge how good he was offensively when he just checked out of all other facets of the game completely.

      BTW, Joseph, I love how you say the Heat hype is already dying down as you whine about the officiating, whine about Chris Bosh’s dunk late in the game, basically imply that he is a homosexual and then try to concoct a way they can lose in the playoffs.

      Clearly, they generate no strong reaction from you. At all.

      Also, I think “Tank Nation” might be back, New Jersey and Sacramento both won last night and play each other tonight, meaning the Raptors have crept into 4th in the lottery standings.

      • The Heat hype is dying down. The fact that I noticed, like a lot of people, that the officiating was one-sided down the stretch, doesn’t mean I’m obsessed with the Heat. And I doubt I’m the only person who thinks the Bulls can beat the Heat in the playoffs. It’s not like I made some crazy, far-fetched remarks.

        As for your Bosh comments, I honestly have no clue where you get the idea that I was “basically implying that he is a homosexual.” You’re either reading way too much into something, or are trying to start something that isn’t there for your own entertainment. Either way, me referencing that hilarious video of Bosh was not meant as an attack on his sexuality. And if you’ve read my stuff before, you’ll know that I always take exception to guys acting big after meaningless dunks (ie- JaVale McGee).

        In terms of the parts of your comment I agree with, Bargnani was horrible from an energy standpoint in this one, even on the offensive end.

        And lastly, yes, the Raps now hold the NBA’s fourth worst record, which if you look at the lottery probabilities chart, is actually a pretty good spot to be.

        • Fair enough.

          I just find it amusing how visceral the reaction is to this team even two years after the fact.

          As someone who has read all your game threads and recaps since Scott brought you on board, this is the first time I’ve detected some actual frustration from you in the aftermath of a loss.

          Anyways, maybe I’m reading too much into it.

          • I’m at the point where I root against the Heat/’hate’ the Heat more to spite the pathetic bandwagoners I referenced in Thought No. 6 than to spite the Big Three. I think LeBron has been a PR nightmare, I think Wade is a bit of a phony and I think Bosh tries too hard to have the whole “cool” vibe going on. But ON the court, where none of that stuff matters, I’m actually a fan of all three.

        • Joseph, I agree with you. I’ve said Bulls/Thunder in the NBA finals since December, Bulls winning. You’re not alone.

          • Last nights game was hurt by MLSE’s attempts to hose the fans. The ticket prices for this game were more than double from last year….and at one point, triple. It reminded me of the first NFL game that came to Toronto. The fans spoke out then as well.

            Hopefully the fans are being heard and they wont try that next year.

            Even MLSE forgets that not all fans are Leaf fans and will pay ANYTHING to get into the building.

  2. That Chris Bosh video…..what a dope.

  3. the entire defens e for both teams sucked.
    In fact they were both shooting at 60 percent well into the half, perhaps even further.

    Defense???\Please…it was as if watching an all star game.

    And one time the king drove past Bargs in the 3rd or 4th qtr and for a dunk and wasn’t even contested withing 3 feet.
    It was like the red sea parted.

    But the whole loss was Grays!!!

  4. It was pretty stunning seeing Bargnani just standing around with his hands in his pockets while Heat players took shot after shot in the paint. But just as bad as that was, it was great watching the bench guys really put the effort in. That swing from down 18-2 (or whatever) to taking the lead in the second quarter was really heartening. Amir especially was amazing. Just wow.

    I am really looking forward to seeing Amir play some meaningful games on our team, if we should ever start to get better.

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