The first test was successful, and now the second-leg of this tough road trip for the Miami Heat comes on Tuesday night as they take on the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
Both Miami and Toronto are coming off of flashy wins on Sunday.
For the Heat, they would kick off their road trip with a 109-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, led by Goran Dragic and his 24 points.
- TIME: 7:30 PM ET
- TV: SN1, Fox Sports Sun
- RADIO: Sportsnet 590 The Fan, WAXY 790 AM, WAQI 710 AM
With the Raptors, they would begin a three-game homestand against the Utah Jazz, and it would be a steamroll-fest in their favor, 130-110. The blowout victory put them at an undefeated 9-0 at home on the season, and they’ve also now won seven consecutive games. Pascal Siakam would lead the way for Toronto against the Jazz with 35 points.
Against Brooklyn, Miami would have to pull off an intense comeback being down by seven with just 1:45 remaining in the game. They would accomplish it by putting up the last 10 points of the contest, while also keeping the Nets scoreless. During that stretch, the Heat were nearly perfect from the free-throw line, hitting eight of their nine shots to seal the victory.
On top of that, Miami was playing fantastic defense to close out the game, particularly from forward Jimmy Butler and center Bam Adebayo. As a result, Brooklyn would miss their last five shots to suffer the defeat.
“I like this win, because, one, it’s on the road,” commented Butler to the press, coming off of a 20 point performance. “But I think we finally showed ourselves what we’re capable of when we guard. When we don’t make shots the way that we normally make shots, there’s still a way to win, and we have to find that way to win. Tonight was a prime example of it.”
The Heat were nearly flawless against the Nets, only committing nine turnovers — a season-low.
“We’ve been talking about it for 48 hours that we need to take a stand, particularly on the road,” Miiami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra would say. “Find a game where we have to grind, even if it’s ugly, to show the mental toughness.”
Switching gears to the Raptors, they were absolutely dominant against the Jazz on Sunday. In the first quarter, they would pull off an incredible 23-2 scoring run, and that would eventually lead into a 77-37 halftime lead. That mark would set a franchise record, with the 40-point edge being the highest intermission advantage in the history of the Toronto Raptors. It would also set a franchise record for Utah as well, but not in a good way. It was their largest deficit at halftime in their history, and it would also tie for the eight-highest in the entire history of the National Basketball Association.
On Sunday, Serge Ibaka would put up 13 points for the Raptors, and this would come fresh off of being out 10 games because of a sprained ankle.
“When he is cooking and going, he becomes a great presence on defense and his offense has been really solid this year,” Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse stated.
Their guard Kyle Lowry is currently dealing with a fractured thumb, and is expected to make a return very soon from the injury. Lowry has missed 11 games so far, however, it hasn’t effected Toronto with their record being 9-2 in that stretch.
“It’s just a matter of plugging guys in that haven’t played and those guys have been playing unbelievable,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, and this coming after accomplishing a double-double on Sunday with 21 points and 11 assists. “Not really surprised, more so just pleased with how we’ve been playing and something we need to continue to do and we are about a quarter of the way in, so we’ve got to continue to keep building and getting better. Once everybody gets back, that will probably be our real challenge, to start back over and try to find chemistry and minutes.”
Toronto’s epic first half would be a little tainted in the second half though. With a 49-point third quarter, the Jazz would cut their deficit in half.
“We just weren’t coming up with any stops — but I don’t really want to talk about that third quarter, if that’s all right,” Nurse commented. “I am happy that we got a 20-point win against a quality team like that. You take that every day of the week.”
In the 2018-19 season, the Toronto Raptors would have a clean sweep over the Miami Heat, winning the series, 4-0. In 2017-18, the Heat would take the 2-1 series victory. On the road this year, Miami is 6-5.
So, Who’s Going to Win?
As of late, the Miami Heat have been playing phenomenal basketball, and you know they’re on top of the world after they pulled off a comeback victory against the Brooklyn Nets. With that being said though, you could say the exact same thing about the Toronto Raptors with the way they would thrash the Utah Jazz. On top of that, this game is in Toronto at the Scotiabank Arena, a place where the Raptors are an undefeated 9-0 this season — you have to give the edge to Toronto, right?
Not so fast, my friend. (Lee Corso voice) Toronto is squaring off against a Heat team that has a healthy balance of both veteran leadership and young talent. Recently, Miami has been absolutely on point as well, going 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games. The Raptors are certainly great enough to beat Miami and stay undefeated at home, pushing them a 10-0 mark, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s going to be a tough one for Toronto — more tough than usual. The Heat are having one hell of a season, and I can only see this team getting better.
Most pundits will be taking the Toronto Raptors, but give me the Miami Heat for the win and to cover the spread. Don’t sleep on these boys from South Beach.