In what was one of the very few games that the Toronto Raptors have remaining against an opponent headed for the playoffs before the end of the regular season, the Atlantic Division leaders ran into a wall on Monday night and lost the franchise’s 15th straight contest to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
More important than just another loss to the two-time defending NBA champs however, a third-quarter collision between James and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry turned the fearless point guard into a spectator for the rest of the evening, and without him, the Raptors again struggled and scored only 32 of their 83 points in the second half.
While Toronto’s vulnerabilities were on full display in Miami and the Heat took advantage of the low-hanging fruit, the fact that the Raptors were outgunned is no excuse for the 10 free throw attempts that the visitors made at a horrible 50 percent, and it’s things like this that will earn Toronto a quick exit from the upcoming postseason.
After averaging nearly 10 free throws a night by himself during the month of March, DeMar DeRozan attempted only one against the Heat on the way to an underwhelming 16-point outing that was reminiscent of the player we saw prior to his first year as an All-Star.
But he was nowhere near alone during the loss, and the offensive disappearing acts pulled off by both Terrence Ross (two points) and Amir Johnson (four) should be cause for concern considering that both played 24 minutes. Facing a team that ranks 30th in the NBA with 36.9 rebounds per game, the problems continued on the glass for the Raptors, who lost the battle of the boards 36-30 and grabbed just five on the offensive end.
Along with being outscored 46-34 in the paint, backup point guard Greivis Vasquez led Toronto with 17 points despite coming off of the pine. And while offensive support from the bench is always a good thing, someone within the starting five needs to take the lead when situations such as last night occur.
As a direct result of Monday night’s loss, the Raptors will have to earn at least one win before the end of the week, or risk a much less favorable matchup in the first round of the postseason.
Ty is a writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @abovethefoldty