There are few things more intimidating in the NBA than the defensive ferocity of the Miami Heat when the mood strikes them to go all out on all cylinders.
They are long and quick and steadfast, and when they want to disrupt an opponents' pick and roll game, they simply do it. And unless that opponent is of championship caliber as well, there's little hope of victory.
The Raptors are getting better, but they are unfamiliar with each other and hardly of championship caliber, a fact hammered home at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday.
Defending most of the afternoon like a pack of wolves, the Heat held Toronto to just 37 per cent shooting and ran away with a 100-85 victory before a sellout crowd of 19,800.
There is no shame in losing to the Heat, as it always serves as a benchmark for how far a team has to go.
"We've got to play a near-perfect game, 90-95 per cent, to compete against them," said coach Dwane Casey.
And the Raptors were not near that level for nearly long enough on Sunday, despite excellent individual offensive games from Rudy Gay (29 points) and DeMar DeRozan (27).
"They got us out of whack and it didn't help us that Rudy has only had one day of practice offensively, and to go into a game and everybody's not on the same page is tough," said Casey. "But it's the NBA, it's nobody's fault, we just have to get back to the practice floor and get some time together and be able to execute plays."
Guard Kyle Lowry was ineffective most of the afternoon, with 10 points but only three assists and five turnovers, Toronto's bench shot a combined 4-for-18, and foul trouble plagued Lowry and Amir Johnson at a key juncture of the game.
Both Lowry and Johnson picked up their fourth fouls in the first five minutes of the third so Casey took them both out. It slowed the game considerably to a pace that more suited the Heat, and Miami took control.
Toronto Raptors can't overcome Miami Heat's tenacious defence
Toronto Star | Feb 4