Season Series: Heat 3-0
It’s been a while since the Toronto Raptors have been victorious in Miami. They would like to change that on Monday night, one day after collecting a win against the Orlando Magic.
While the Heat are chasing the Indiana Pacers for the best record in the Eastern Conference, they’ve had a rough stretch (for a 50-win team) going 7-8 over their last 15 games.
In a close 102-97 loss to Miami in January, DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting and dished out seven assists while Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas scored 17 points apiece.
After watching the Magic storm back in the second half during Sunday’s game, the Raptors need to focus on improving their defence. Toronto’s defence allowed its opponents to shoot 55 and 53 percent, respectively, in its past two games. These numbers are unacceptable for any playoff team, particularly one being coached by the defensive-minded Dwane Casey.
What To Watch
Heat injuries: Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and Greg owen are all listed as doubtful for Monday’s game. Allen has missed the Heat’s last three games because of the flu while Wade has been sidelined by a strained hamstring. Oden is doubtful because of back spasms. Mario Chalmers is a game-time decision after participating in shootaround despite a bruised quad.
Raptors reserves: As most teams are whittling down their rotations as the postseason nears, Dwane Casey has challenged his players to be ready when opportunities come. Against the Magic, little-used forward Landry Fields stepped in for 17 minutes of duty, and Steve Novak and Nando de Colo made appearances as well. As the team continues to try to buy time for DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to rest as well as survive waiting for Patrick Patterson to return from injury, expect Casey to continue to experiment.
Toronto defence: This has been mentioned before (as recently as last game!), but it’ll continue to be an issue of concern until the Raptors get back to their defence-first roots. Attempting to contain LeBron James and the Heat isn’t the easiest task, but in a week that will see Houston and Indiana visit Toronto after this meeting with the Heat, figuring things out defensively is a must for the Raptors.
““Landry Fields hadn’t played in forever, and comes in and has a very productive game. Nando (De Colo), I thought he did a heck of a job at the point. It gives us a lot of confidence in those guys to come in and play for them and give it to us.” – Dwane Casey on his bench’s performance against the Magic on Sunday night
“We haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t played a playoff game. We haven’t won a playoff series. We haven’t done anything. So we still have a long way to go and we understand that.” – DeMar DeRozan on the team’s mindset over the final weeks of the regular season
“This is the game I love to do. I probably played 500 more street ball games growing up. It’s just a great accomplishment to have made it this far.” – Kyle Lowry after playing in his 500th career game Sunday evening
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Heat: Mario Chalmers (G), Dwyane Wade (G), LeBron James (F), Chris Bosh (F), Greg Oden (C)
Raptors: Patrick Patterson – right ulnar collateral sprain (day-to-day)
Heat: Ray Allen – stomach virus, Mario Chalmers – bruised right quad, Greg Oden – back spasms, Dwyane Wade – strained left hamstring
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Heat
|2013-14 AVERAGES||2013-14 RANKINGS|
Last Time They Met: Raptors 97, Heat 102 – Jan 5th, 2014