Miami (0-0) at Toronto (0-0)
When: Tuesday, May 3rd 2016
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: TNT
The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors will have had little time to rest as they prepare for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Tuesday. Both teams struggled through seven games in their respective series that ended on Sunday. The second-seeded Raptors had all they could handle with seventh-seeded Indiana, but they managed to win their first postseason series since 2001 despite poor shooting from their All-Star guards. Kyle Lowry (31.6% in the series) and DeRozan (31.9%) were horrible, but both hit key shots down the stretch in Game 7. DeRozan, who was 10-for-32 from the floor in Game 7 but knocked down the free throws at the end that sealed the win and finished 9-of-9 from the line, should be glad to see Miami, against which he averaged 29.3 points on 48.8% shooting in four regular season games. Toronto nearly squandered all of a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead in Game 7 against Indiana before pulling out an 89-84 victory.
Miami looked unstoppable in its first two games against the Charlotte Hornets in the first round before struggling through the next four only to find its form again in a 106-73 blowout at home in Game 7 on Sunday. Miami star Dwyane Wade kept his team alive with a brilliant fourth quarter in Game 6 but everyone stepped up in Game 7 with the season on the line. Point guard Goran Dragic scored 25 points in the clincher while Hassan Whiteside capped a strong series with 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Luol Deng averaged 19 points on 54.1% shooting in the first round series. Gerald Green, who averaged only five minutes of playing time in the first six games against Charlotte, played 23 minutes in Game 7 and scored 16 points. Miami lost three of four from Toronto in the regular season and lost both in Air Canada Centre.
I have to go with the team that’s playing better right now and that’s Miami. Only one of Toronto’s four wins in the first round was convincing, while Miami had three convincing victories. I’ve been waiting for Lowry and DeRozan to start playing like All-Stars, and I’m done until they do. I’ll take the points in Game 1.
Pick: Heat +4.5