Even though the Miami Heat have won 13 straight, including seven in a row at home against the Toronto Raptors, Sunday’s matchup between the two teams could be a close one down the stretch. The Raptors have won five in a row (they are 9-2 since trading Rudy Gay), and they have won seven of their last eight road games. If the Raptors are finally going to find themselves victorious against the Heat, there is no better time than now.
Although the Raptors are a product of the lowly Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division, they do not appear to be the same team that has continuously been taken lightly in the past. Sure, they are only one game above .500, but they are the division leaders by a four-game cushion, and they also have some upset victories under their belt against some of the NBA‘s finest. They have secured wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers, two teams that will no doubt be competing for a spot in the NBA Finals come season’s end. The Raptors are currently the hottest team in the NBA and a win against the Heat will keep this unfamiliar fire burning.
Even though the Raps are going into South Beach with a great amount of confidence, they are going to need some help if they want to take down the back-to-back NBA Champions for the first time since 2010. LeBron James wasn’t up to his normal speed when the Heat took on the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. King James only managed to shoot 5-13 and earned 15 points for his ball team. The Raps will need another uncharacteristic performance from the league’s best player if they want to take a second victory in a row on their three game road trip.
If DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson can continue their solid play, combined with good performances from the likes of Patrick Patterson and Terrence Ross, the Raptors can finally beat the Heat and perhaps proclaim themselves as the real deal when it comes down to being a division leader. The Heat have made a living out of destroying teams from the Atlantic Division, but the Raptors finally seem to have the momentum to beat the Heat with some fire of their own.