Get­ting Miles to cor­ner spot not easy

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SPORTS - Ryan Wol­stat

The pair­ing of C. J. Miles and the Toronto Rap­tors has yet to go quite as planned.

The ini­tial think­ing when he signed as a free agent in July was that he would ei­ther start or be the team’s high-scor­ing sixth man.

But here we are, nearly mid­way through Year 1 and no fewer than eight Rap­tors are av­er­ag­ing more min­utes per game than Miles, who has not played this spar­ingly since he was a 20-year-old in Utah a decade ago.

The deep­est ros­ter in fran­chise his­tory and de­fen­sive con­cerns (Miles guards non­be­he­moth power for­wards f ar bet­ter t han quicker swing­men) have prompted the min­utes re­stric­tions, but there have been promis­ing re­cent signs on that front.

Miles played 22 min­utes against Sacramento on Dec. 17, be­fore be­ing felled for three games by an in­fec­tion fol­low­ing den­tal surgery. He wasn’t him­self upon his re­turn in his na­tive Dal­las on Box­ing Day, but the next night was one of the few ef­fec­tive Rap­tors in a loss at Oklahoma City. Miles hit six three- point­ers ( the third time he has done that this sea­son) and led the team for the first time with 20 points.

One of the things hold­ing the part­ner­ship back has been an in­abil­ity to get Miles looks from his most dan­ger­ous ar­eas, the corners. Only two play­ers hit more cor­ner three- point­ers than Miles last sea­son and he connected on just shy of half of those at­tempts, which also ranked among the NBA’s lead­ers.

In Toronto’s new- look of­fence, Miles is get­ting nearly 50 per cent fewer chances a night from the corners com­pared to in his fi­nal Pac­ers cam­paign.

As the pri­mary threat off the bench, op­po­nents sim­ply won’t let Miles op­er­ate where he wants to be.

“The way he’s been shooting, teams un­der­stand that, they’re not let­ting him ( go there),” point guard Fred VanVleet told Post­media.

“We can get him some, but he can be a de­coy too and get guys open looks. With the way we are mov­ing, he’s get­ting a lot above the break, but ob­vi­ously if we can get him there in the corners, he’s pretty lights out.”

Miles says those types of three- point­ers are eas­ier for him be­cause they come from a closer dis­tance than other out­side at­tempts, mean­ing he can re­lease them quicker and eas­ier, with­out need­ing to put his legs into them as much.

“Ev­ery­body’s got their go- to shot and I guess that’s mine. I can shoot those, hand in the face be­cause I’ve ripped them so many times,” he says.

Miles is try­ing to ac­cen­tu­ate the pos­i­tives. He has been forced to ex­pand his game, putting the ball on the floor more, at­tack­ing the hoop and be­com­ing a threat from all over the court.

“I’ve had to be more ac­tive, I’ve had to get in different spots and not just stand so peo­ple can stay hugged to my hip,” he said.

“We’re search­ing (the cor­ner three- point at­tempts) out, try­ing to find ways to get them too be­cause those are easy shots for me, but I’ve been get­ting them every­where else.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.