The Toronto Raptors will welcome in back-to-back defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, to the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night and try to beat them for the first time since January 27, 2010. Although the Raptors will have home-court advantage and the Heat are 0-2 on the road already this season, Raps fans will be focused on beating a sole individual rather than beating the Heat as a whole.
A lot has changed for both teams since the Raptors last found themselves victorious against the Heat. Chris Bosh was still a Raptor and LeBron James was still planning his inevitable exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then the Heat have absolutely dominated the season series going 10-0 dating back to the 2010-11 season. Although the Raptors have upgraded their roster, so have the Heat, and that ultimately spells trouble for a Raptors team that is desperate for a win against the superstars from South Beach, Bosh in particular.
For Raptors fans, a game like this isn’t only about beating the Heat — it’s about beating Bosh. The former Raptor of seven seasons will most likely be greeted by a chorus of boos every time he touches the ball, and until the Raptors actually beat him he will continue to welcome any negative reaction his former fans give him. Bosh falls into the same category as Vince Carter when it comes down to the Toronto fan base. He is a player who left the city that gave him his first shot at stardom in a selfish manner, failing to pay homage to a loyal fan base that stuck by his side even when he failed to play tough in the paint.
Bosh was often criticized as being too soft down low for the Raptors and failing to get critical rebounds and points for his team late in games. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket never seemed to want to play tough for the Raptors at any point during his seven years in Toronto. It is very clear that he now feels a lot more comfortable playing on the shoulders of James and Dwyane Wade, two players that have made the real difference when it comes down to the “Big 3″.
Even though this is just another game for fans of the Heat, for those that have been following basketball in Toronto before and after Bosh’s departure, this game is personal. If the Raptors go into this game wanting to eliminate the angst of their fans in regards to Bosh they can win. Bosh has performed relatively well upon his returns to Toronto. However, if the likes of Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valanciunas, along with players coming off the bench figure out a way to stop James, Wade, and the outside shot from Ray Allen, Bosh’s soft side could prove to be the demise of the Heat on Tuesday night in Toronto.