This week, the Toronto Raptors demolished the Miami Heat in game seven of the Eastern conference semi-finals 116-89. In this series, many thought the Miami Heat would end up winning due to their superstar guards catching fire during their playoff run.
Coming in, everyone knew that the guard match ups were going to be the highlight of the series. Dwyane Wade was vintage in the playoffs thus far, shooting over 46% percent from the field while averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
He topped off this amazing post season performance by shooting 52% from behind the arc. Those of you who know D-Wade know that we don’t see him hit threes consistently ever.
In the 2015-16 regular season, he shot a dreadful 16% from downtown. Goran Dragic also played like a superstar during this run. He was putting up a consistent 16 points while shooting 44% from the field.
The two Miami superstars were heating up at just the right time. This in my opinion seemed to serve as a rally cry to the rest of the team, saying that their time for a championship run was now.
This consistency from both these players spiked the deep playoff run for the Heat.If this is true, then why didnt Miami win the series then?
The answer to that is injuries. Usually an injury here and there will not effect a team. The loss of three key players for Miami hurt their chances.
Chris Bosh experienced blood clotting issues toward the end of this regular season. Though uncontrollable, blood clotting is extremely serious and some analysts worry that Chris Bosh may never be cleared to play basketball ever again.
Putting his health first, the organization shut him down for the series. Bosh accounted for nearly 20 points and 8 rebounds per game this regular season which was a major loss for them.
Whiteside also got injured during the series twisting his knee early on. He was another huge factor during the playoffs, controlling the paint consistently. Whiteside notched 10 rebounds and nearly 3 blocks per game which caused a huge gap in their defense.
He was also shooting 68% from the floor. Not shown on the stat sheet, he altered many shots. Deng was also greatly missed at points in the series. He provided solid scoring while shooting over 47% from the floor.
This depleted most of the offensive and defensive game plan for the Heat for a large portion of the series. These key losses throughout the series shattered their hopes of continuing their run.
Another reason the Heat were favored in this series was because of poor shooting from Toronto’s guards during the playoffs thus far. Together, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen shot around 35% which is extremely low for the two stars.
DeRozan shot a career low 18% from the three point line. Lowry was shooting so bad, he stayed after in the practice facility until as late as 1AM shooting shot after shot. On top of the poor shooting, the Raptors best big man Valanciunas went down injured for most of the series.
Averaging a double double in the postseason, this proved to be a vital loss for them. Together, the problems for the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors boiled down to produce an amazing, closely contested game 7 on paper.
Originally, I said that the Heat would take the series in 7. Before watching the game, I predicted the Heat to beat the Raptors 94-81. I thought that the poor shooting from DeRozen and Lowry on top of the loss of Valanciunas would cause the Raptors to lose by a substantial amount.
Based on their play in recent games, I wrongfully thought Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic would be too much for Lowry and DeRozan to compete with. Since both Miami stars were playing at their best at the time and Toronto’s’ were playing at their worst, it would make sense for them to lose the biggest game in the series.
Not only were the stars playing better, but the Heat were statistically performing better than the Raptors in most aspects. They overall were shooting better, scoring more, and were playing better on the defensive end of the floor in the playoffs.
When I made my prediction, I did not account for the key injuries in the series because some of them did not happen yet.
My prediction overall was far from right. I was correct about the game 7, but truly never expected the Raptors to win the series. D-Wade and Dragic had a good game, combining for 32 points.
The rest of the Heat’s starting lineup stepped up, including Joe Johnson, Justise Winslow and Luol Deng who all put up double digits in the scoring category. The only spark that was provided from the bench was from Josh McRoberts who put up a solid 10 points.
The rest of their bench only put up 8 points. Deng and Winslow stepped up on defense, recording five blocks total in an attempt to fill the hole left by the injured Hassan Whiteside. Winslow and Dragic also recorded 4 steals that evened out due to 4 turnovers provided by Dwyane Wade. Though they worked hard and fought to the end, it would not be enough.
What I remember most about the game were the performances by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen. They combined for a total of 63 points, just shy of doubling that of Wade and Dragic. Lowry had 7 rebounds, 3 of those being offensive.
He was also shooting lights out in Air Canada Centre, shooting 5-7 from downtown. This was extremely surprising because of his recent struggles from the field. DeRozan reeled in 8 rebounds and was keeping many offensive possessions alive snagging 4 offensive rebounds.
I was most impressed by the performances of Biyombo and Patterson. Biyombo shot 6-8 from the floor while grabbing 16 rebounds while he sent back 2 shots. He filled the shoes of Valanciunas and then some which could result in an increase of minutes coming in the near future.
Patterson shot perfect from the line while snagging 11 rebounds. He also jumped a pass to get a steal and sent back a shot in someone’s face. These two players unexpectedly stepped up which resulted in the blow out. The bench didn’t perform as well as they should have, losing the battle to Miami’s bench.
Overall, I thought this was a very interesting series that went back and forth constantly. It was very exciting to watch the amazing guard match up even though they were not at their peak.
I would have liked to see both teams compete uninjured. I think Miami had the better team and would have won at full strength. I am extremely happy to see Toronto advance to their FIRST conference finals in franchise history.
This is not only great for the franchise, but it is also great for the NBA to see a new team in the conference finals. The Toronto Raptors will take on the Eastern Conference Juggernaut known as the Cleveland Cavaliers.
CAVS RAPTORS PREDICTION
My prediction for that series is 4-2 Cleveland. Cleveland has way too much star power on their team and are currently steamrolling teams in the playoffs.
I was going to predict 4-1, but I feel Toronto will definitely take one game and am optimistic that they might be able to get another.
I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. The series will be determined by the guard play of Toronto and if their roleplayers show up to play.
If they win more than two games, I will be shocked. This is a series that I believe Cleveland has won before it has even started. For a further breakdown, see my Cleveland vs Raptors breakdown.
Websites were used for statistical values only. All thoughts and ideas expressed in this writing were my own.