Advanced Scout: The Heat get ready for a Canadian and Midwest rivalry

Can the Miami Heat get big wins against middling Eastern Conference teams, the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers?
Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors
Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors / Andrew Lahodynskyj/GettyImages
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This is Advanced Scout. Every Sunday here at All U Can Heat, we’ll take a look at the upcoming week’s schedule and scout the Miami Heat’s opponents. We’ll discuss the biggest storyline, toughest matchup, and headlines for the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wednesday, Dec. 6 vs Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors Advanced Statistics

  • ORTG: 11.4
  • DRTG: 112. 1
  • NET: -0.7

Top Headline: Struggling guard Gradey Dick sent to G-League

Former Kansas basketball star Gradey Dick is having a tough time adjusting to the NBA.
The guard was selected in this year's draft by the Raptors but has not met expectations so far. Despite appearing in 15 games with the NBA club, the 6-foot-6 sharpshooter struggled to produce points and was eventually sent to the Raptors 905, the team's G League affiliate. However, Dick showed promise in his recent game with the 905, where he scored 21 points and made seven of 14 shots from the field in 38 minutes. The team hopes that he will continue to develop his skills in the development league, as former Raptors like Pascal Siakam and former guard Fred VanVleet have done, before blossoming into key players.

Toughest Matchup: Scottie Barnes

The Raptors are in a state of limbo as they navigate their short and long-term plans. Despite having OG Anunoby and Siakam from their championship-winning team, they lost VanVleet in free agency. However, the addition of third-year forward Scottie Barnes could potentially be the key to their future success, as his growth and development will play a crucial role in shaping the team's direction. Barnes has been handed the key to the offense under new coach Darko Rajaković. He is averaging career highs in points (19.6), rebounds (9.1) and assists (5.5). At 6-foot-9, he is a tough matchup because of his ability to score at the rim and make passes from any spot on the floor. The Raptors are a poor 3-point shooting team, (33.8% from 3-point range, the 28th-worst mark in the league) but any NBA opponent can catch fire on any given night.

The Raptors key players have remained injury-free and the team's depth has not been put to the test. However, there might be a solution to all their struggles in the form of Javon Freeman-Liberty. This 24-year-old guard joined Toronto on a two-way contract this season and has been the only bright spot in an otherwise disastrous campaign for the 905. It shouldn't come as a surprise to the Raptors, as Freeman-Liberty caught their attention with an impressive performance in the Summer League against them and continued to excel as Toronto's top two-way player during the preseason.