Steady Freddy

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Fred VanVleet Leads Raptors Past Heat in Nail-biting Second Game

Nice road win, eh?

On the heels of a massive statement victory against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Toronto Raptors took on the Miami Heat in the type of game you would expect to see in the early afternoon on a weekday.

Some rust, a whole lot of sloppiness and not something you would characterize as a smooth, well-played basketball game. But games like this happen in the NBA, and more often than not, it’s the good teams that find a way to make the right plays down the stretch to take home the win.

That’s what the Raptors did.

After turning the ball over a horrific 21 times, the reigning NBA champions made two key stops in the winding seconds of this afternoon’s matchup on route to a 107-103 victory. Once again, the Raptors came up with yet another statement victory to the dismay of their doubters.

“We have deep respect for their organization,” said Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra prior to tip-off. “They have an identity, a brand of basketball. They’ve acquired players that fit their style and they’re extremely well coached and competitive. In many ways we look at them and it’s just respect.”

After Kyle Lowry wreaked havoc against the Lakers on Saturday, it was his backcourt mate Fred VanVleet who took charge on Monday. The Heat had absolutely no answer for the undrafted point guard who went off for a career high 36 points on 50-percent shooting, adding five boards and four assists in the win. Pascal Siakam backed VanVleet with 22 points of his own, while Serge Ibaka poured in 15 points off the bench.

“[VanVleet] was making tough shots. You have to live with them,” Bam Adebayo said. “A lot of them were highly contested. He’s been to the Finals. He made big plays in the Finals. He’s just been doing what he’s been doing.”

As the Raptors get closer to clinching the two-seed in the Eastern Conference, it’s fair to assume that the minutes played numbers will start to decrease, but until then, the Raptors are on a mission!

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