Miami comes back to Toronto tonight for Game five of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, and at 2-2, with the Raps back on Canadian soil, and Hassan Whiteside out for another game, this is a major opportunity for the Toronto to take a stranglehold on the Heat.
The absence of Whiteside, who’s been listed as day-to-day since Game three with an MCL sprain in his right knee, provided the Raptors with a huge opportunity to attack the rim and finish high percentage shots without the presence of the seven-footer altering their release.
Unfortunately, the Raps did not take advantage of this in their Game four loss, with Miami crashing the paint and forcing Toronto to take bad jump shots, leading to a 94-87 loss and an even series.
Kyle Lowry played better basketball, and despite the lack of a scoring presence his intangibles are keeping him a factor in this series. From Sportsnet’s Faizal Khamisa:
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) May 11, 2016
DeMar DeRozan struggled to finish with nine points in the loss, shooting a dismal 4-17 from the field while dealing with a thumb injury. DeMar has shot 35% from the field during the series, a number that needs to change unless he wants to finish the series on the bench.
After Dwyane Wade tied the game in regulation with a dazzling layup, the ball was put in Corey Joseph’s hands for the game winning shot. Whether this was a bad coaching decision, or the right choice avoiding the cold player, something needs to change for DD in Game five, otherwise the Raps will be looking for a new max contract guy this off season.
One positive from the game was the play of big man Bismack Biyombo, who played with a fire and desperation while replacing the injured Jonas Valanciunas. Lucas Nogueira also saw over 13 minutes of action against the Heat and didn’t look bad against the smaller lineups, making the traditional lineup with a big man a possibility for the Raps.
Outside of DeMar and Kyle, the rest of the squad has been playing their usual solid basketball, and if Toronto could get more of a regular contribution from the dynamic duo, the Raps would easily be leading this series.