Monday night’s game in Miami could be the Toronto Raptors best chance to beat the HEAT since Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010.
The HEAT are 3-0 against the Raptors this season and are on a 14 game winning streak over Toronto, but Chris Bosh and company haven’t faced a team this good from north of the border since he went to Miami. The Raptors have won over 65 percent of their games since early December when Rudy Gay was sent packing and when these two teams met in January, the HEAT had to come from behind to pull out a 102-97 victory in front of their home crowd.
Miami’s formula for success against the Raptors this season has been fairly straightforward. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have combined for 52.7 points per game and the HEAT have played solid defense at the end to pull out the win. This time, however, Wade has missed 4 of the past 5 games with a sore hamstring and his availability is questionable. Also missing the last 2 games have been Mario Chalmers, Greg Oden and Ray Allen. The shorthanded HEAT easily beat both the battered Bucks and the inept Pistons, but the Atlantic Division leading Raptors are another kind of test altogether.
DeMar DeRozan is a first-time All-Star and he’s played like an All-Star against the HEAT this year, averaging 24 points on 53.7 percent shooting from the field. Also the Raptors big men have feasted on the undersized HEAT lineup. Earlier in the season, it was ‘Physco T’ Hansbrough giving the HEAT problems. In their last meeting, all 3 of Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson put up big numbers. Patterson has been out with a sore elbow, but could return Monday and if he doesn’t, Hansbrough can get the job done against Miami.
The HEAT have something to play for, they are only one game back of the slumping Pacers for first overall in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors are equally motivated with just a one game lead over Chicago for third place and a long losing streak to the HEAT DeRozan would really like to put an end to.
If the Raptors can somehow squeeze out a win in Miami on Monday, it will the first time in franchise history the team won over half of their games on the road in a season. However, don’t be surprised if Wade finds a way to be ready to face the Raptors.
Pro Bball Week in Review 03/30/14
On Pro Bball Report last week: free Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough has playoff toughness, Patrick Patterson set to return, Terrence Ross on defense, Raptors can set a road wins record, pregame and post game stories and a lot more.