Getting Miles to corner spot not easy
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.”