Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat Preview
Miami Heat (55-40) at Toronto Raptors (63-31)
NBA Basketball: Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm (Air Canada Centre)
The Line: Toronto Raptors -4.5 -- Over/Under: 190 See the Latest Odds
The Miami Heat will take on the Toronto Raptors today at 3:30 PM Eastern Time. This very intriguing Game 7 will be played in Toronto Canada. Let’s take a look at both the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors and see what both teams will have to do to win this very important Game 7:
Miami Heat- The Miami Heat have dealt with injuries throughout both the regular season and the playoffs. Miami Heat star who is also one of the most versatile big men in the NBA, Chris Bosh was declared out for the remainder of the postseason. Bosh has been out of action since February, when an undisclosed medical condition forced him to be ruled out for the remainder of the regular season. Bosh had a strong desire to return back to action during the playoffs but Bosh and the Heat thought for his safety and health it would be smart for him to forgo playing the remainder of the season. Even while playing in only 53 games, Bosh averaged 19.1 PPG which led the team in the regular season. If Bosh were healthy and able to play, he could have greatly impacted the series with his strong scoring and presence down low. Another very costly Heat injury is Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside was injured during Game 3 of this current series against the Raptors and was diagnosed with a sprained right MCL. Whiteside has not played since and was recently ruled out for Game 7 in Toronto. Whiteside, standing at 7 feet tall, is one of the best shot blockers and rebounders in the NBA. Prior to the injury, Whiteside averaged 12.0 PPG, 10.9 RPG, and 2.8 BPG. The Heat have really missed Whiteside’s presence in the middle with his defensive shot blocking ability and his electrifying dunks down low. With both of these costly injuries, the Miami Heat have been forced to play “small ball.” In the Heat’s big Game 6 win in Miami, the starting lineup was PG Goran Dragic, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Joe Johnson, PF Luol Deng, and surprisingly SF Justice Winslow. The Heat looked a lot quicker and outplayed the Raptors the entire game. Some moments during the game, the Raptors took advantage of their size with players like Bismack Biyombo and Patrick Patterson but the Heat did not let their lack of size dictate the outcome of the game. To win this crucial Game 7, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic will have to be at their best. In Game 6, the two combined for 52 of the Heats 103 points. Throughout the playoffs, Wade has looked like his old self and has been the team’s leader. He has led the team in points with 21.8 PPG and assists with 4.4 APG. Wade has also been a huge part of the defense averaging 1 BPG and recently passed Michael Jordan for most postseason blocks by a guard in NBA history. PG Goran Dragic has been big in the playoffs too being the second leading scorer on the team with 16.5 PPG and a huge 30 point game in Game 6 of this series. If Wade and Dragic are playing at the high level they are capable of, the Miami Heat have a good chance to win Game 7. Two other players who need to step up big are Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. Luol Deng was fantastic in the first round of the playoffs against the Charlotte Hornets but has not played as well against the Raptors. Deng will need to help out on the scoring end and be his usual defensive minded player to help the Heat win Game 7. Veteran, Joe Johnson needs to play at his best on the scoring end. He has not shot three pointers well at all shooting a poor 29% from downtown. Joe Johnson will need to improve his shooting to help the Miami Heat on offense during Game 7. If Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic, Luol Deng, and Joe Johnson all play at there best, the Heat have a good chance to win Game 7 and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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Toronto Raptors- The Toronto Raptors are also dealing with a very costly injury. Center, Jonas Valančiūnas sprained his right ankle and was ruled out for the remainder of this current series against Miami. Valančiūnas sprained his ankle in Game 3 after a weird fall while going up to block a shot. A Whiteside vs. Valančiūnas matchup was highly talked about throughout the series but now both big men are out of Game 7 and possibly the remainder of the playoffs. Valančiūnas injury really hurt the Raptors because he was playing with a lot of energy and heart on the court. Some people may argue that Valančiūnas was winning the center matchup against Whiteside before the injury occurred. Before Valančiūnas got injured he averaged 15.0 PPG, 12.1 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. He still leads the team in rebounds and blocks during the playoffs. Valančiūnas is very hard to cover on offense because he can make outside shots and free throws consistently. His backup, Bismack Biyombo has replaced Valančiūnas as the starting center. Biyombo, stands at only 6,9 while Valančiūnas is 7,0. Biyombo also does not bring the same offensive skill sets as Valančiūnas and Biyombo also struggles shooting free throws. Biyombo, has played surprisingly well during Valančiūnas absence though. During Games 4-6 Biyombo has 27 points, 8 blocks, and 32 rebounds. Biyombo will have to step big time and use his size to his advantage if the Heat decide to play “small ball” again. Two players who will be very important for the Raptors are the backcourt tandem of Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan. Lowry and Derozan were one of the best backcourt duos in the league during the regular season but during the playoffs it has been a different story. The two have been very streaky during the series. Lowry has made some incredibly important shots during the closing seconds of games during this series but has been very inconsistent as well. In Game 1, Lowry had a terrible night going 3-13 from the floor with only 7 points. During Game 4, Lowry went 2-11 from the floor and fouled out with only 10 points. Other times Lowry has looked likes his usual self. In Game 3 Lowry had 33 points and in Game 6 Lowry had 36 points. Lowry and Derozan are going to have to play at there all star level in Game 7 in order for the Raptors to win this game. Two other player who need to play at there best is DeMarre Caroll and Terrence Ross. Caroll injured his wrist during Game 5 and did not return to the game. He was questionable for Game 6 but he ended up playing and will suit up in Game 7 as well. Caroll has averaged 9.3 PPG during this series. Caroll has been very streaky too scoring 21 points in the Raptors Game 2 win but only 5 points in the Raptors Game 6 loss. Caroll will have to be more consistent on offense in Game 7 to help the Raptors win this game. Another important player for Game 7 is Terrence Ross. Ross is a very athletic small forward who has been a streaky player in this series as well. In Game 1, Ross had 19 points but in Game 3 he had only 5 points. Both Caroll and Ross can shoot the three ball and during Game 7 if both of them can hit there three point shot consistently then the Raptors have a very good chance of winning Game 7. If Lowry, Derozan, Ross, and Caroll all play at a high level they are capable of during Game 7, the Raptors have a very good chance to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals
History involved: Both the Raptors and the Heat are trying to make history in Game7. The Heat are trying to be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-2 defect in back to back series. The Raptors are trying to make team history by reaching there first ever Eastern Conference Finals. It is win or go home time for the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat.