Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Free NBA Pick: Under
Best Line Offered:
The lone national TV game on the NBA schedule Wednesday night features Toronto at Miami on NBA TV. It could be a first-round playoff preview as the Raptors figure to finish somewhere among the East’s top three seeds – they are No. 1 right now – and the Heat perhaps among the bottom three – they are currently No. 7.
It’s the second of four meetings in the regular season. On Nov. 25 in Toronto, the Raptors were 12-point favorites but failed to cover in a 125-115 win. If you took the Dinos and the points, you still probably hate Miami’s Josh Richardson as he hit a meaningless 3-pointer from 32 feet with 19 seconds left to allow the Heat to cover. Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Leonard is averaging 22.1 points in 10 career regular season games against the Heat, his highest scoring average vs. any NBA team. Of course, the first nine were while Leonard was with the Spurs. Kyle Lowry had 12 points and 10 assists in the win. Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 10 rebounds, but he’s currently out injured.
Dwyane Wade led Miami with 35 points off the bench. Bam Adebayo added 16 points and 21 rebounds also off the bench. Starting Heat center Hassan Whiteside was a total non-factor due to foul trouble and finished with two points and minus-15 in 12 minutes. Richardson was about the only starter to do much with 19 points.
The Raptors lost their most recent trip to south Florida. The Heat have won 13 of their past 16 at home in the series.
Both Sides Missing Key Players
Toronto is just 5-6 in its past 11 games but often hasn’t been at full strength – plus, the loss of Valanciunas for a month following surgery on a dislocated thumb has hurt. The Raptors were clobbered in Philadelphia 126-101 on Saturday in their last game before the holiday break. Read very little into that considering Leonard and Serge Ibaka were also out.
Leonard has yet to play both ends of a back-to-back this season, while Ibaka has missed the past three with a sore knee. Not clear if Ibaka will play here, but he’s listed as a starter on the team’s game notes. Lowry did return Saturday after missing four games with a sore left thigh. He had 20 points but has lost the assists lead. He’s handing out 9.8 per game, behind Russell Westbrook’s 10.3.
Miami went into the break on a season-best five-game winning streak following a 115-91 rout in Orlando on Sunday to get to .500. It was the 500th coaching victory for Erik Spoelstra. Tyler Johnson led with 25 points vs. the Magic and he has really picked it up since the Heat ruled out starting point guard Goran Dragic until at least the All-Star break due to a knee injury.
Justise Winslow also has raised his game without Dragic and is being used by Spoelstra to handle most of the point guard duties even though Winslow is a small forward. He had 22 points and five assists vs. Orlando. Miami is 10-1 this season when holding opponents to under 100 points. The last five Heat opponents during this streak were were averaging 110.1 points per game but Miami held them to an average of 94.0.
- Under is 7-2 in Raptors last 9 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Under is 5-0 in Heat last 5 home games.
Miami is locking down on defense right now, with the under hitting in nine straight when the Heat scored at least 100 points the last time out. The Raptors have a Top 10 defense in allowing 107.6 points per game. Go ‘under’ for an NBA bet Wednesday.