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Raptors blog: Similarities abound between Heat and Raptors on and off court

– I guess the Raptors aren’t going 41-0 at home after all. Blame it on Kyle Lowry playing. In all seriousness (even though some confused souls actually are blaming Lowry), they’ll probably win 65-70% of the time at Scotiabank and that will be just fine. Miami is a tough, well-coached group that gets after it defensively. The type that will give any club some problems. Sound familiar? It should, since you could describe the Raptors that way too.

– The similarities don’t just end on the court too. Off of it both franchises have established a culture, a certain way of doing things the right way and that has led to success. They develop players well and have a knack for finding hidden gems.

– Bam Adebayo is one of those, even though everyone knew he had potential as a star at Kentucky and he went at the end of the lottery. How much? Hard to say, but he’s certainly doing just about everything for the Heat these days. He’s an elite defender, who can also rebound and pass.

“There’s a guy that’s been given another opportunity to be a full-time type of guy,” Nick Nurse had said when I asked him about Adebayo prior to the game.

“The tools have been there, the motor, the explosiveness. He’s really good at what he does. He really attacks the glass. He really screens and rolls hard. He really finishes at the rim. And they’ve really just put him in a little bit more usage situations, and the numbers go up. And also, he defends. He’s capable. He can play a couple different schemes. He can switch with his good feet. Again, I think he’s taken the opportunity that has presented itself.” – No kidding. With Hassan Whiteside out of the way Adebayo is a leading candidate for most improved player and is mimicking the leap Pascal Siakam made last year. He’s averaging 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. A three-point shot is currently missing, but then again, Siakam had that issue for a while and look at him now.

– Adebayo was a menace defensively, frustrating Siakam who had his second bad offensive game in the past three (but on the plus side limited his fouls and turnovers).

– Nurse has long been a fan of Miami counterpart Erik Spoelstra, the NBA’s second-longest-tenured head coach.

“They’ve got an excellent coach who puts the system in, and (players) feed off that. They’ve got some main go-to guys, like most teams do, and they play very well. I think they’re playing with such an attack mentality and a freedom mentality,” Nurse said of Miami’s out of nowhere rookies Kendrick Nunn (who had a tough game) and Duncan Robinson (who did not). They’re not shying away from taking shots or putting their head down and going to the rim, whatever it is. They’re aggressive. They come out and play aggressive. That’s what I would say about our guys (who filled in for Lowry and Serge Ibama, ttoo).” – “Spoelstra’s) obviously proven himself as a winner. He’s proven himself to handle lots of different rosters. There are always times in the year where they’re playing about as good as anybody. It doesn’t surprise me. They guard. They move the ball. They run good stuff. He’s good.” – Butler used to roast the Raptors regularly as a Bulls player, posting some of the biggest games of his career while Chicago routinely beat Toronto. But that was his first triple-double since the 2016-17 season and only the fifth of his career.

– After collecting 30 steals over the past two games the Raptors only managed five. Players not named Fred VanVleet (one of only three players averaging at least two steals per game) only collected two. It should be noted that Lowry showed no fear with his thumb, picking up a steal and a block and six rebounds.

– Lowry did miss all 11 uncontested shot attempts in his homage to Game 1 of the East semi-final back in 2016, when he famously stayed after shooting 3-for-16 in an overtime loss to get up post-game shots.

– Basketball-reference.com noted Lowry notched his 128th career 10-assist game, which moved him past his childhood idol Allen Iverson. He’s 14 such games away from also passing one of his mentors, former teammate and original Raptor star Damon Stoudamire and is also approaching Jose Calderon’s 150 10-assist games. John Stockton (863) is way out in front, ahead of Jason Kidd (569) and Captain Canada Steve Nash (509) (Kevin Johnson is eighth on the list and it’s always been hilarious to me that Phoenix once had Kidd, Nash and K.J. on the same roster!)

THREE STARS

1 Jimmy Butler

2 Duncan Robinson

3 Fred VanVleet

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