Preview: Heat vs. Raptors

Get ready for a battle in the Queen City tonight as your Miami Heat take on the Toronto Raptors in a battle of two Eastern Conference contenders!

The Heat and Raptors have both played tremendous basketball of late and look to continue their forms as they clash at the Air Canada Center. Toronto has been very tough to beat at home this season and showed it when they took out the Heat by 20 in their last meeting with Demar DeRozan putting up 33 points. The Heat did not look like themselves at all during that game and just looked outmatched throughout. However, that was before Coach Spo changed up the offense and sped up the tempo. It has worked beautifully as the Heat have been too much on offense for most opponents since the All-Star break.

A factor that plays into this contest is that Hassan Whiteside did not play in the last game between these two teams. His presence in the paint will give the Raptors’ big men some problems as well as keeping them off the offensive glass. So let’s take a look at the three things the Heat need to do in order to win.

  1. Go at Lowry and DeRozan: The new offense for Miami allows Dragic to play at a faster pace and attack the rim. He needs to attack Kyle Lowry and make him play defense. Dragic has speed on Lowry and should make him be a chaser all night. For DeRozan, D-Wade needs to attack him as well. DeRozan has the tendency to foul a lot and there are few as good as Wade at drawing fouls. Making these two have to worry on the defense will make it slightly more difficult on the offensive end in terms of energy and stamina.
  2. Take out the trash: The Raptors have some great offensive rebounders on their teams that include Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo. The Heat need to collectively rebound and make sure they box out. Having Whiteside will help.
  3. Turn up the Heat: Toronto ranks 7th in turnovers per game, which means they do a good job with taking care of the ball. Miami has some great wing defenders, so they need to pressure on the perimeter and force some turnovers in order to get out on the break. Lowry and DeRozan have been sloppy the past few game, so Miami needs to capitalize.

With all of that said, I think the Heat have a very good chance to win this game. It is only a slight change, but this a new team with a new-found sense of urgency, and they are showing it. If Miami wins tonight, they can take over third place in the east from the Boston Celtics. They need to treat this game like a playoff contest, because they could potentially see this team in the postseason at some point.

Thank you for flying with us today. GO HEAT!

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