For years the Toronto Raptors prided themselves on being a defence-first team. It's become the identity of the team ever since head coach Nick Nurse took over for Dwane Casey in 2018. This season, however, something has changed. The Raptors' defence has taken a step back and it cost them Wednesday night, falling 111-102 to the Miami Heat at Amalie Arena.
When the Raptors are at their best, their defence keeps their offence going. They get stops and then run out in transition off of turnovers and missed buckets. Lately, however, the Raptors have battled defensive miscues. It was the case on Wednesday against the Heat who repeatedly found themselves wide open either inside the paint or behind the arc whenever they forced Toronto into rotation.
"I think we were just a half, quarter count behind on a lot tonight," Raptors coach Nick Nuse said. "I thought we weren't moving as well as they were moving."
It didn't help that Miami was red-hot from behind the arc, shooting 18-for-40 on Wednesday. A lot of those, however, were uncontested looks when Miami was able to get Toronto out of position with an extra pass. Even Duncan Robinson, who the Raptors usually hold in check, was able to get off 6 3-pointers, nailing 4 of them for 12 points.
Without Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley who were both out due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, the Heat got a big boost off the bench from Kendrick Nunn and Andre Iguodala who scored 28 and 13, respectively.
After three close quarters, Toronto's offence went ice cold in the fourth. The Raptors went just 6-for-21 in the fourth and even when they started making stops late in the fourth, their offence couldn't cut into Miami's lead.
"We didn’t shoot it well enough," Nurse said. "I thought we didn’t shoot it well enough normally in the game, even when it wasn’t the zone. Early in the game, they played man to man first-quarter shooting woes continue, out there shooting all alone taking threes and it would have been nice probably to get off to a better start but, you know, I also give their zone credit and our inability to maybe not find better shots against it."
Pascal Siakam Returns After Brief Injury Scare
Pascal Siakam didn't look right most of the night after falling awkwardly in the first quarter before limping off the court. He was blocked by Miami rookie Precious Achiuwa going up for a dunk and seemed to twist his knee coming down. While he did return, he seemed to look pretty tentative until late in the fourth.
"Just a little scary fall," Siakam said. "I mean, my groin’s been bothering me for a little bit unfortunate, so that was definitely unfortunate."
Terence Davis Shines off the Bench
The lone bright spot for the Raptors was sophomore Terence Davis II who responded after a rough night on Monday with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Up Next: Miami Heat
The Raptors will be right back at it on Friday for another spat with the Heat at 7:30 p.m. ET.