The last time the Miami Heat were below the .500 mark, they had just lost to the Boston Celtics on opening night in 2010. The Heat corrected this rare flaw on Sunday night by beating the Washington Wizards at home by 10 points to bring their record back to 2-2. The Heat have an opportunity to move into the positive on Tuesday when they play the Toronto Raptors.
It may seem like a no-brainer to pencil in a W for the Heat in this matchup, but this could easily become a trap game for the defending champs, sinking them once again below the .500 mark. Although we are only four games into the season, the Raptors are already the top rebounding team in the league, averaging 50 a game. This also happens to be one of the Heat’s biggest weaknesses, and a major part of the “blueprint” on how to take down the defending champs.
The Heat are also playing a Raptors team that is much improved on defense, only allowing their opponents to score 93 points per game, which is the fifth best in the league. The offseason additions of Tyler Hansbrough, Austin Daye and Steve Novak, plus improved play of Rudy Gay are major reasons why this franchise is taking big steps towards grabbing a playoff berth, and they could be a handful for the Heat on Tuesday night.
If the Heat manage to share the ball as well as they did against the Wizards, they should have no problem scoring on Tuesday night. The only way the Heat are going to out-rebound the Raptors is by drawing out their frontcourt players (ie. Chris Bosh shooting well from beyond the arc) and crashing the boards as much as possible.
The Heat will most likely win this game, but it will be close for the most of the game, with the Heat pulling away down the stretch. Miami will finally be above .500, and hopefully won’t sink below it for the rest of the season.