Series tied 3-3
The Miami Heat are embracing small ball in ways rarely seen in the NBA and are on the verge of taking it to the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat will once again operate without a traditional center when they visit the Toronto Raptors for Game 7 on Sunday.
Miami didn’t just leave the center out of the lineup in Game 6 with starter Hassan Whiteside sidelined, it left power forwards Amar’e Stoudemire and Udonis Haslem on the bench the entire game as well while small forwards Luol Deng, Justise Winslow and Joe Johnson started and got the bulk of the playing time in the frontcourt. “Sometimes unconventional works,” veteran guard Dwyane Wade, who scored 22 points in the 103-91 triumph, told reporters of the lineup. The Raptors received solid play from the backcourt pairing of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry but failed to contain the Miami guards and the waves of perimeter players the Heat sent at them on the defensive end. “They did an excellent job of setting the tempo and the style of play early and we didn’t adjust to it as far as guarding the basketball, containing the basketball, keeping it in front of us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Raptors opened as 4.5-point favorites and the total hit the board at 189.5. At the time this preview will be published on Saturday evening, neither number has moved. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE HEAT (55-40, 51-43-1 ATS, 39-55-1 O/U): Miami, like Toronto, is playing a Game 7 for the second time already in this postseason and is confident it can get the job done on the road. “It’s different than a normal game,” Wade told reporters. “It’s not a Game 1, where you have a Game 2 the next day. You have to give a little more. You have to do a little more. You have to give everything you have. There’s no tomorrow.” The Heat are at their best when point guard Goran Dragic is playing aggressively and attacking the basket, and the 30-year-old posted his playoff high with 30 points in Friday’s triumph.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (63-32, 49-46 ATS, 46-48-1 O/U): Toronto was without its starting center as well (Jonas Valanciunas, ankle) but elevated reserve center Bismack Biyombo into the starting lineup and tried to play a more traditional style on offense. The Raptors lamented their struggles with one-on-one defense after the loss, with Lowry in particular noting the difficulty of containing Dragic, but are excited for Game 7 at home. “This is going to be fun,” Lowry told reporters. “It’s Game 7, (No. 2 seed) versus No. 3 and a good opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages there is. Time to just go out there and hoop.”
* Heat are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Raptors are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
* Under is 7-2 in Heat last 9 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Over is 23-5 in Raptors last 28 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is favoring the Raptors as home favorites at 55 percent and the Over is getting 60 percent of the action in early wagering. View full consensus data here.
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