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Saturday November 21, 2009 8:53 am

First hand review: Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors




Posted by Alvin Lai Categories: Editorial, Fantasy, NBA,

The Toronto Raptors have hit the road for most of November. My buddy Larry has been fuming over their lack of defense. Ironically he was loudest during a two-game stretch where they held their opponents to under 90 points. Granted, he makes a good point. When only the Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks rank below you in opposing team scoring, it should send a message that the D needs to be cranked up.

The Miami Heat came to town riding low on a similar three-game losing streak. These two downward trending teams meeting each other resemble the proverbial unstoppable force against the immovable object, only much less impressive. I had not been to a game since the thrilling season opener win against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here are my first-hand impressions of the game, with of course some fantasy spin thrown in when possible.

Neither team showed much obvious energy during pre-game warmups, and the building was pretty empty; by tip-off I eyeballed the lower bowl to be two-thirds full. For a Friday night game, against a team with a mega-marquee name in Dwyane Wade, this seemed a bit weird. For most of the game, it would be one of those nights where the only person in your section bringing energy seems like a loudmouth, not a catalyst that sparks the rest of the nearby fans into cheering loudly.

I face my friend, Ron Chow, in our family and friends league this week. Heading into the match-up, we were tied for first place. However my team is now saddled with injuries to Kevin Martin, Eric Gordon, and Manu Ginobili. Therefore, the suspense in the outcome is out of the equation, I am just trying to minimize the damage. Ron made a stunning pick taking Andrea Bargnani with the first pick in the third round, which surprised the room even though the Raps are everybody’s hometown team. So far he has been paying dividends and his shot would be on target this game. Part of me hoped Bargnani would lay an egg this game while the Raps won. After all, it’s all about the fantasy.

The Raptors are celebrating their 15th anniversary all season. Midway through the first quarter, they flashed on the jumbotron their list of all-time dunkers. #5: Fred Jones. #4 Keon Clark. #3 Tracy McGrady. #2 Jamario Moon. #1 Vince Carter. A picture of the top dog on this list was met with a mad chorus of boos. So much for forgive and forget, Carter. T-dot still chooses to resent and remember.

With just less than three minutes left in the opening frame, I noted that the Raps had already committed eight turnovers, and the Heat had coughed the ball up five times themselves. This was good evidence for sloppy teams from two teams who care to think of themselves as playoff contenders.

DeMar DeRozan had a very sick, alley-oop dunk. Look for it on the highlight reels, folks. Well done, kid.

Flash responded with a few monster drives and dunks of his own. Similar to ‘Bron on opening night, Wade did not look entirely engaged in this game to start, but yet he was the only player on his team that produced in the first half. By halftime the Raps had built up a 69-49 lead.

Marco Belinelli dished some sweet dimes tonight. I have to ask again why this guy did not get any burn while on the Golden State Warriors.

Ask any casual fan about the Raps, and they can tell you about how poor they tend to play to start the second half. The Heat chipped away at the lead, and by the end of the third quarter the lead was only six points.

The lead was a measly one point in the fourth quarter. The Raps’ success this season will partially be tied in to Jarrett Jack’s three-point shot. Not a noted long-bomber, Jack went 3-for-4 from downtown tonight, and scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.

If you own any piece of the Raptors’ starting front court, tonight it was a fantasy feeding frenzy all around. Chris Bosh led the way with 29 points, 12 rebounds and one assist, Bargnani finished with 24-10-2, and Hedo Turkoglu put up 19-5-8. With the game close, I did not care that Bargnani was producing big-time for Ron’s team, the fan in me just wanted to see the team get the “W.”

From what I see as a fan, Jose Calderon is a liability on defense. Mario Chalmers lit him up with 30 points, including five moneyballs. As the Heat were making a run, everyone in the Air Canada Centre knew the Heat would be launching three-balls. Still, Jose could not close in on Chalmers, who obviously had the hot hand. During crunch-time when the Raps built up a small lead, Calderon fouled Chalmers in the act of taking a three-point shot. Following the free-throws, Bosh threw an errant in-bounds pass which led to an easy bucket. The Raps sure did make it interesting in more ways than one. They did enough in the end to come away with a 120-113 win.

My brother-in-law, JT, just dropped Chalmers. He is probably pretty mad that Chalmers had a big game immediately after sending him to the waiver wire. I thought about calling him to rub it in, but decided against it. The fantasy gods do not like that sort of thing.

As for the rest of the Heat, Michael Beasley had a good game. He is on one of my fantasy teams, and definitely needed his double-double tonight. He has the opportunity to take over when he leads the second unit with Wade on the bench, which over the course of the season should lead to an increase in his scoring average. Jermaine O’Neal scored 17 points and was decent in his return to Toronto. He received some light applause during the introductions and then had a little fan taunting rain on him during the game. Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson were both out for this game, so James Jones started at forward. Jones had little impact on the game and obviously has no fantasy value at this point.

Some guys made a huge sign with a picture of Turkoglu and the caption “THIS IS HOW HEDO IT.” When they got on the jumbotron, they reached below and put up another sign that read “DE ROZ BEFORE HOZ.”  Pretty funny.

Wade finished with 30-5-8 and two steals. He headlines our expert league team that Ron and I share. All in all it was a good night. Sure, Bargs ripped my fantasy team, but Beasley had a solid game for my squad. Wade, Jose, and Turkoglu are on our expert league team and they all had good numbers tonight, even though Calderon did not score much. Even when the home team is involved, it’s still all about the fantasy!

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