Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

You didn't really think it would be that simple, did you? Not really?

This is the Toronto Raptors we're talking about. They can't do anything the easy way.

If you invited them over to your for house for dinner, they'd crawl down the chimney rather than come through the front door. If you asked them to mow your lawn, they'd show up with scissors.

Story continues below advertisement

It's not a failing. Not after this much time. It's an institutional philosophy. Like England losing on penalty kicks or the Cubs disappointing in the end, it must be embraced as part of the local culture.

However, it's only cute as long as they can pull it out when it counts.

For the second time this postseason, the Raptors left an opportunity to end a series in six games untaken. The last time around, the Indiana Pacers hammered Toronto from the outset. This wasn't that. In the sense that Toronto seemed baffled by Miami's tactical shift, it was worse.

If you're looking for an aesthetic comparisons, Portland/Golden State is ballet. Toronto/Miami has become Jell-O wrestling. It's still athletic, but you feel embarrassed for watching.

Going with a jerry-rigged, small-ball lineup, Miami ran through and around the Raptors in a 103-91 win at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. For a nice change, the loss can't be blamed either of Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan. Both were at their best on the offensive end.

Instead, it was the defence's turn to take a night off. Again and again, Miami cutters wove between Toronto's standard big-man look. The Raptors could not adapt to the altered playing field.

Fittingly, the guy who stuck the knife in at the end was Joe Johnson.

Story continues below advertisement

The series will be decided Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre. The only way it can get any uglier is they decide to play with a greased pig instead of a ball.

Cleveland awaits the winner, presumably while bent over laughing. If either team play that series the way they've played this one, it'll go three games and then the seldom-used NBA Mercy Rule will come into effect.

If nothing else, this ongoing contest has proved that the NBA is not as random as it may look out on the court. Once you pull out a couple of key pieces, all order begins to evaporate. This is what basketball looks like when no one is quite sure what they or anyone else is supposed to be doing.

In the lead-up, the conversation revolved around triage. There were demonstrations of DeRozan's shoestring cure, obfuscation about Hassan Whiteside's condition (always out), phony guessing about DeMarre Carroll's status (always in) and a "game-time decision" about Luol Deng (made long before the game).

Lacking sizable options, Miami started with with a line-up shorter than most elite high-school teams. The tallest Heat player on the court to begin with was Deng at 6-foot-9.

This was a showdown between an occasionally resistible force and a highly movable object.

Story continues below advertisement

Having never been in this position before, you expected nerves from the Raptors. What you got early was something more than that. Aside from Lowry, every man on the floor looked like he'd just found himself locked out of his hotel room in a towel.

Open looks were routinely missed by wide margins. The movement was frantic. The initial chaos was magnified by the fact that the officials had decided this would be one of those "hack at will" games. As both teams scrambled back and forth, it looked more like Red Rover than basketball.

The pace favoured Miami, which was the point. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra is a product of the video room. He's the sort of wonk that would like to see a game that is nothing but perimeter shooting and transition buckets.

That's just how weird this series has been – Spoelstra gets to test his tactical dreamscape in a playoff elimination game.

If they didn't look comfortable, neither did Miami. Toronto kept pace. There was a small tremor midway through the first when Bismack Biyombo was called for being in the cylinder during a putback dunk. There have been some bad calls in this (and every other) series, but this was a level above. That was the first inkling. That connected to a late phantom call that put Lowry on five fouls.

Everything that's been wrong with this series was on display early – wretched shooting, bonehead giveaways and nothing resembling a diagrammed play.

Story continues below advertisement

We've moved beyond the point where we expect the Raptors to morph overnight into a fluid, seamless unit. It's always going to be this choppy.

For what seemed like the first time in this playoff run, the Raptors neither ran away with it nor fell behind in the first quarter. There were six lead changes. The shooting began to settle.

At that point, all defence began to bleed away. In particular, Miami's Goran Dragic was repeatedly given the freedom of the lane for easy lay-in buckets. While the Slovene ran wild, Lowry sat on the bench in his boxer's pose – head wrapped in a towel. The whole thing would come down to his minutes and how many he could play. He'd said beforehand that he'd play all 48 if he had to. Foul trouble put paid to that idea.

Led by Dragic's 19 points, Miami led 53-44 at the break. It was the most the Heat had scored in any half of the series.

However bad it has been, Toronto's defence has always been stiff during this run. But now the Raptors were being overrun by a quicker, nimbler line-up.

Barrels of ink have been spilled over the last month discussing "adjustments."

Story continues below advertisement

The Raptors have roughly 40 hours to figure out the ones that can save their season.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies