Game Preview: Raptors at Heat

Holly MacKenzie -

The Raptors will close out their current five-game road trip in Miami against the Heat on Saturday. Toronto faces Miami in the second night of a back-to-back after falling to the Hawks in Atlanta 105-99 on Friday night. The Heat come into the game well rested after defeating the Charlotte Hornets 108-101 in Miami on Wednesday.

Tip-off: 8:00 P.M. ET

Broadcast info: SN1 / SN590


Surging Heat

Although Miami's 31-34 record has the Heat tied with the Chicago Bulls for a half game back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, they have been one of the hottest teams in 2017. The Heat are a ridiculous 20-4 over their previous 24 games.

With Toronto on a back-to-back at the end of a five-game trip and without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, a hard-working and competitive Heat team is not to be take lightly. As they fight to earn a playoff spot Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters have led the way offensively while Hassan Whiteside has held things down on the defensive end for the streaking Heat.

Shoot through it

Toronto struggled mightily from beyond the arc in Friday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks. After making just 4 of 25 attempts from three, Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan were on the same page about the need to continue taking open looks, regardless of shooting percentage.

"They have to take them," Casey said. "That's their shot. Whenever guys have the green light to take shots, its shots that they work on. They are important shots. They are shots they make every day. They shot 100 the last couple of days and they make them. Guys go through that, as a team we still have to take those shots with confidence. I believe in our shooters. We have some excellent shooters that are proven shooters. Those are shots we've got to live with."

Despite the ugly percentages in Atlanta, Toronto was pleased with the quality of looks they were getting. Good ball movement and player movement to continue getting open looks is equally as important as taking the shots when they're created.

"We were getting a lot of looks," DeRozan said. "We're telling everybody to keep shooting. If we make anything close to half of those, we get the game."

Active defence

In a flurry of numbers on the boxscore of Toronto's 105-99 loss to Hawks, one stands out. The Raptors combined for 17 steals against Atlanta, in comparison to Atlanta's eight steals. Although the Hawks tuned the ball over 21 times, getting 17 steals is not a common occurrence.

Friday's game was just the 11th time this season that a team has amassed 17 steals in a game. That number is evidence of a hard-working defensive effort from Toronto. Despite communication mix ups and rotational miscues, the Raptors were hustling and scrambling on the defensive end of the floor. As the Raptors head to Miami to take on a rested and hungry Heat team vying for a postseason spot, the defensive effort needs to stay high.