Miami Heat vs Toronto Raptors: When Caring Leads to Winning

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one aspect of the Miami Heat that both NBA fans and media don’t understand and get infuriated by, it’s the team’s tendency to play down to their opponent’s level.

Today’s game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre looked to be heading in that direction.

After a quick start for Miami, The Raptors made the game close and took the lead in the second quarter. DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay were almost scoring at will and the Heat defense looked slow with late pickups on defense. It was appearing heading into halftime like Miami wasn’t taking the game seriously.

Then something happened in the second, particularly in the fourth quarter. The Heat began playing like they cared.

LeBron James was being more aggressive, Dwyane Wade picked up his game on defense, and Chris Bosh went to vintage mode in his former home court. Once Miami retook the lead the defense picked up to make sure Toronto didn’t get it back. The Raptors kept it close late in the fourth quarter, but the Heat quickly blew the game open to ensure the victory.

The game should serve as a lesson for the Heat. The team is capable of playing stifling defense on any given night and it has to make that a regular occurrence. Playing to the level of opponents has burned Miami before and it almost cost them today.

Two bonuses for the Heat came as a result of the win. The first bonus being that head coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff will join James, Wade, And Bosh to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game at Houston on February 17. The second bonus being that the team, after complaining about missing Super Bowl XLVII due to flying back to Miami, will instead now watch the game at a sports bar next to the Air Canada Centre before catching their flight.

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