The Raptors pushed the Heat to overtime in Miami on Monday despite a pair of subpar games from their two best players. Yes, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for just 19 points on 6-of-28 (21.4 percent) shooting from the floor, including 0-of-7 from three-point range.
Toronto lost, 94-87.
The Raptors could still win this series, which is tied at two games apiece, but why have Lowry and DeRozan struggled so much? Lowry has shot 23-of-65 (35.3 percent) against Miami, while DeRozan is shooting 28-of-80 (35.0 percent) and has attempted just one three in the series.
“It’s tricky,” Bobby Marks, front office insider for The Vertical, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Lowry is under contract so he’s not a free agent this summer. The DeRozan situation is really tricky. He’s hurt. He’s got an injured thumb. Does that excuse him for taking some of (those) shots last night? No, I think you’ve got to kind of put a little bit of a rope on him and reel him in a little bit. I kind of blame Dwane Casey a little bit for that in that regards. He’s been underpaid. He’s right around $10 million. I label DeMar DeRozan as one of those players who’s probably going to get close to max money almost by default with Toronto. It’s a tough spot. If you lose him, who else is out there? Are you confident enough in Terrence Ross and Norman Powell to take that leap from the bench to the starter role? It’s almost like you’re going to have to overpay to retain, and that’s just the position teams are in when you’re faced with the salary cap and where the cap is going and everything. I always say it always takes one. It only takes one team to pay him $20-25 million. It’s tough because he has not been very good.”
Neither has the Raptors/Heat series, even though three of the four games have gone to overtime. Heck, Marks likened Monday’s sloppy Game 4 – Toronto and Miami combined for 30 turnovers and 7-of-35 shooting from three (20.0 percent) – to a “mid-October preseason game.”
“The Western Conference games seem to be at a different level right now,” Marks said. “Either Toronto or Miami is going to be going into the lion’s den in the next series with Cleveland kind of waiting there.”
Game 5 is Wednesday in Toronto at 8 p.m. ET.
As for head-coaching carousel, Marks believes that the Knicks will stick with Kurt Rambis.
“I think so,” he said. “I think that’s where we’re looking. Unless it’s going to be Frank Vogel, that’s where we’re looking. We’ll define the Phil Jackson era with his coaching hires. It’s not going to be what he’s done in the draft with (Kristaps) Porzingis or with Carmelo Anthony from a trading standpoint or what he’s going to do in free agency. The Phil Jackson era is going to be defined with Derek Fisher and, if it’s Kurt Rambis, Kurt Rambis. He’s kind of putting all his eggs in the basket. If the Rambis situation doesn’t work, then where do you go? Who does he turn to? Is it somebody outside the tree? That’s going to be three head coaches in, what, three or four years here.”