Two Things: 3-point barrage, Stopping the Raptors Killer, and beating the zone

Aaron Rose

The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors are a little bit like that Spiderman meme. 


They play a very similar defense-first brand of basketball without a true superstar but the kind of high-quality depth that can really trouble some teams.

The two teams have squared off twice this season with Miami prevailing both times, including an 84-76 slog in which the Raptors shot 31.5% from the field and 6-for-42 from 3-point range. The Raptors were, however, without Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell in that game, so take that game with a grain of salt.

Today the Raptors will look to snap the Heat's three-game head-to-head winning streak at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Here are three things to watch for:

1: 3-point barrage

No two teams in the NBA give up more 3-points shots than the Raptors and Heat, according to Cleaning the Glass. Conversely, the two teams rarely give up shots at the net, where the two teams rank in the top 10 in fewest shots allowed within four feet of the hoop. Thus, you can expect a lot of 3-point shots today, especially corner 3s.

Miami is the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, shooting 38.4% from behind the arc, so the Raptors will have to cool down the Heat to come out victorious.

2: Raptors Killer

Jimmy Butler has historically been the so-called "Raptors killer." He's averaged 19.4 points per game in 24 career games against the Raptors and he'll be active today, according to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

OG Anunoby did a remarkable job defending LeBron James on Saturday and he'll once again be called upon to hold Butler down against Miami.

3: Beating the Zone

Both the Raptors and Heat are strong proponents of the zone defense, switching into it regularly to confusing opposing offenses.

Offensively, it's something the Raptors have struggled with a little bit this season and certainly troubled them in the team's last meeting against Miami.

"I think we certainly had a really rough game for a lot of minutes down there last time," Nurse said of the Heat's zone defense. "That was a good learning experience for us. We probably practiced a little bit more, put in a few more looks, worked on some different scenarios against not only that zone but other zones that we see, and may see. Just part of the learning process for us."

With Gasol, Siakam, and Powell back in the lineup today after missing the two teams' last meeting, things should be a little easier this time around.

One more thing:

Nurse fell one vote shy of creating a three-way tie for the National Basketball Coaches Association's coach of the year award, according to ESPN.

The award was given to the Milwaukee Bucks' Mike Budenholzer and Oklahoma City Thunder's Billy Donovan.

"Those guys obviously did a great job," Nurse said of Budenholzer and Donovan. "You can't argue with the Bucks' record and how great OKC did after everybody expected lower expectations for them, so those guys are very deserving."

This is not the NBA's official Coach of the Year award.