The Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat is about overtimes, and the more the better.
The Raptors tied the series at 1-1 with a 96-92 overtime win in game 2. DeMarre Carroll scored 21 points to lead the Raptors in his best game of the postseason, followed by DeMar DeRozan with 20 and Kyle Lowry scoring 18. Goran Dragic led the Heat with 20 points, Joe Johnson and Dwyane Wade each scored 17.
There are two ways to try and look back at a game and try to find the players & moments that played the key role in crunch time, like Jonas Valanciunas giving the Raptors a four point lead in overtime with a nice 13-foot jumper, after blocking Hassan Whiteside.
And there’s the way that isn’t just watching tape, but looking at box scores, and seeing who stepped up, and what worked. Like DeMarre Carroll, who has been having a so-so playoff experience, partially due to injury, but finally showing up, especially in the first half.
The box score tells us Kyle Lowry had another rough game: He did score 18 points to go with 6 assists while the Raptors were +10 with him. However, he shot poorly once again (7-for-22) and missed all but one of his seven three point attempts. He’s shooting just 30.8% from the field, and it doesn’t seem to be an elbow issue. He’s taking bad shots time and time again. But his confidence seems to be fine. Otherwise he wouldn’t be hitting those big shots in the fourth, which would have won the game if it wasn’t for Goran Dragic, the man and the bleeding lips, hitting the game-tying three pointer, sending the game into overtime.
Jonas Valanciunas, when the Raptors remember to give him the ball, continues to be huge. He played 38 minutes and finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and one huge block on Whiteside that we already mentioned, while taking only nine shots (making 7 of them). He’s averaging 14.9 points and 12.1 boards in these playoffs playing 29 minutes a game, making 54.5% of his shots. If he’s going to be on the floor for close to 40 minutes, the Raptors need to use him more. Whiteside is struggling against him.
The comedic moment of the game came from Erik Spoelstra, yelling at Luol Deng to get the ball in play while taking too long to inbound it (not for the first time in the game or the series, which makes you wonder why he’s the one doing it), almost getting caught with a five-second violation. The Heat were already down six in overtime at that point with 20 seconds remaining. Not exactly the moment to lose your cool, but not the moment to forget the clock is about to get ticking.
And this is going to be the series. Physical, “ugly” basketball which is fun to watch. Trading punches, and then someone making one or two more big plays in the end. It seems the Raptors, especially with their two backcourt starts misfiring with embarrassing numbers, need to see more from guys like Carroll and Valanciunas to make it an even series. The Heat need to figure out how their bench is going to make a contribution. Playing Deng, Johnson and Wade for close to 40 minutes each game might not be the best of ideas.