Welcome back to SportsNak’s exclusive Raptors playoff coverage. Game three down in Miami was yet another close one that saw the Raps come out on top. Kyle Lowry finally overcame his shooting woes and torched the Heat for 33 points. With J.V going down early in the third quarter, Kyle knew he had to step up, and he did. Now with “Big Science” out for the remainder of the series, Kyle will have to take his success from game three and continue to shoot the ball for the Raps to win. J.V was pretty much unstoppable in the first two and a half games, and his loss is huge. There is no one who can come in and play at the level that he was playing at. Bismack Biyombo, Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola/Jason Thompson will all have to step up and do their best to fill J.V’s shoes. It will be interesting to see if they can do just that.
When J.V went down, Dwayne Casey made yet another questionable decision and put in the veteran Luis Scola. Scola had been glued to the bench since game four in Indiana and that’s where he should’ve stayed. Why not see what Jason Thompson can do? He’s a hundred times more athletic, can spread the floor and works hard on the glass. To be fair, I guess I can understand the Scola move. He’d played well all year and is a veteran leader; he’s been there before. But when the guy commits three fouls in his first few minutes on the court, that should have been it. The fact that Casey left him in there, and let him take a few threes, was insane. J.T is just sitting on our bench, when he is actually the better fit for this series. It will be interesting to see if he will get any playing time tonight or not.
Here are the three keys for the Raptors to take a 3-1 lead home:
1. Attack the Basket
Without Hassan Whiteside anchoring the defence, the main rim protector is Josh McRoberts. McRoberts is 6’10, and is known more for his playmaking than for his defence. This should open up a lot of easy layups for DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Also, Biz should be able to grab some offensive rebounds. If the Raptors win the battle of points in the paint, they should come out on top.
2. Get the Ball Out of D-Wade’s Hands Late
Dwyane Wade absolutely killed the Raptors in the second half after a slow start to game three, scoring 29 of his 36 points in the second half. The Raptors should focus on making Wade’s support players beat them, much like they did with Paul George and the Indiana Pacers. If the Raptors shut down Wade, the Heat offence takes a huge hit.
3. Feed That Man!!!
Kyle Lowry finally broke out of his postseason slump on Saturday, and looked like a man possessed! His clutch baskets were huge for the Raptors, and put them in an enviable position going into game four. If Lowry can keep up his hot shooting, it will make up for his terrible start to they playoffs, and then some. Lowry is the key to the Raptors on both ends of the floor, and getting him active and involved is going to be the key to success for the Raptors.
Do you think the Raps can pull this thing off without J.V? Comment below!
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