This article first ran on SportingNews.com on Nov. 16, 2017 and can be found here.
When the Toronto Raptors picked up CJ Miles this offseason from the Indiana Pacers, they did so looking for a successful three-point shooter. Now 14 games into the season, it seems their investment is paying off.
Miles put up 17 points in Toronto’s 125-116 win on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, going 5-of-9 from behind the arc in less than 19 minutes of playing time.
Against the Rockets on Tuesday — a dominant 129-113 win in Houston — Miles had 19 points while shooting 67 percent from three-point range in less than 17 minutes of playing time.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said that they haven’t tweaked anything offensively to give Miles more opportunities to play, but rather thinks he’s just more adjusted now.
“He’s (in) more of a rhythm,” Casey said. “He’s had the same space and the same play calls, but I think he’s getting more of a rhythm. I don’t know if it’s game conditioning, or just a rhythm.”
The 30-year-old said he’s been watching a lot more film lately to see how he can be more assertive and find his spots quicker in games to be successful. He also credited the offense as a whole.
They’re sharing it more, he said, which has opened up more options not just for him, but for everyone.
“The guys are looking for me, for one,” Miles said. “We’re doing a lot of things, just moving the ball, and because guys are being assertive in that they do, it’s allowing me to find gaps and spaces and guys can’t just stay hugged up.”
Against the Rockets, all of Miles’ points came from three-point land, and he provided what Casey said after the game was a “big boost” late in the stretch. He drilled three deep balls in the span of two minutes to help keep the Rockets at bay at the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth.
That type of play — especially with the second unit when stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are on the bench — is critical for their success, Casey said.
“He’s a savior for us in that second unit when things kind of get stagnant and we need some points,” Casey said. “His three ball is lethal. If we’re going to be a three point shooting team, we’ve got to have that kind of performance off the bench from him, and then the defensive focus on the other end.”
Though his deep-ball success hasn’t been consistent all season. In their season opener against the Bulls, Miles did go 6-of-9 from the three-point line. However over the next 10 games, Miles struggled. He didn’t hit more than three three-point buckets.
But even though he’s struggled — and likely will have another rough patch over the next 68 games this season — Lowry said that doesn’t change what they want out of him.
He’s a shooter, and they want him to keep shooting.
“That’s what he does,” Lowry said. “That’s what we brought him here to do. Him given the opportunity to shoot the ball the way he can and he has the ultimate green light. He has the ultra green light. We want him to stay aggressive, continue to be aggressive.
"If he misses 20 in a row, we still want him to shoot the next 20 because we know what he can do. We need him to be that guy.”