Tell me you aren’t still grinning from that Raptor win on Sunday. As bad as the Raptors have played, they are 2 games behind Miami for 5th seed, and are tied for 8th. Gotta love the East man. Tonight Raptors roll into South Beach and face a Miami team that has lost two games in a row – one of which was a 28 point mugging by the Grizzlies who got a career night out of Rudy Gay (41 pts).

The last time they played, the Raptors were able to turn penetration into open looks for each other. The guards were creating, the wings were scoring, and the bigs were beating up the Heat. In fact, Bargnani had a phenomenal outside-inside game where he would fake a three, take a couple steps in, and stick the jumper. He also grabbed 10 boards, one of his best nights.

In the second-half of that game, offensive rebounding and guard play was what killed the Raptors, as their 20 point half-time lead evaporated into 6 by the end of the 3rd. Timely plays by Bosh, Bargnani, Jack and Turkoglu answered every Heat charge at the end of the game, and the Raptors pulled one out.

Frankly, there is no reason that shouldn’t happen again, a Raptor win that is, but a couple things worry me about this one:

  • Dwayne Wade
  • Payback game for the Heat
  • Raptors are 4-10 on the road

Factor in that the Heat have lost two in a row, and after tonight, they face Orlando, Portland and Utah, and you can imagine they will be motivated to come at us hard and fast to try and make the Raptors fold early. Fortunately, Miami doesn’t have the team to blow the Raptors out of the water, this one will go down to the wire.

Jack has slid into the starter role seamlessly; you can almost imagine Jose frantically pedalling on a bike trying to get back on the court as soon as possible (might already be too late). Jack needs to be more physical with Chalmers from the get go. Mario dropped 30 on us last time, and we can’t let him go off like that alongside whatever Wade decides he is going to do tonight. Jack needs to attack and bump him every chance he gets to knock him out of his sweet spot.

DeRozan comes off three bad games in a row where he has scored a combined 12 points. While we don’t need his scoring tonight, we need him to keep Wade as far under control as possible, whatever that means. DeRozan might get an early hook if he isn’t doing it in favour of Weems who has been very active This actually becomes a strategy thing as some might say to let Wade do what he wants (since he probably will), and lock down on everyone else. I personally like going about trying to stop everyone. The best part about playing the Heat is that we don’t have to send a double team to any of the post players, since they aren’t that good.

Is it too much to ask Hedo to repeat his Houston performance? He’s already played a great game the last time out with 19pts 8rebs 5ast. He only needs to not give Jones open looks from beyond the arc, and that should be it. Jones doesn’t have the type of game to really give Hedo any problems.

Beasley lulled Bosh into a coma then just unloaded on him last time out. It was actually pretty upsetting now that I think about. As good as Beasley is, Bosh is better and should dominate this matchup. Beasley has a good shot, but you have to keep him out of the paint where he grabbed 6 offensive boards last game. That is unacceptable plain and simple.

Word has been sparse on Bargnani’s injury, but he did seem a half-step off against the Rockets (got him into foul trouble early). If the guy is hurting, we need to sit him. I understand the importance of following up the Rockets win with one over the Heat, but not at the expense of his health over the course of a season. Tonight he will need to work hard on keeping O’Neal off the offensive glass, but should get great looks at the rim from the perimeter.

Keys to the game:

  • Go for the jugular early
  • Protect the glass
  • Don’t double team anyone in the paint
  • Don’t let Chalmers/Jones get hot

Jimmy‘s sim says Miami will win 114-97. I have a feeling this will be a closer affair, and contrary to what I said in the podcast, I think the Raptors win this one 103-98.

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