Game Preview: Huskies vs. Heat
The Raptors are back at the Air Canada Centre after earning a comeback victory in Detroit against the Pistons on Wednesday. They will face the Miami Heat in their final home game of the regular season. The Heat come to Toronto following a 112-99 road win in Charlotte against the Hornets. This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: TSN2 / TSN1050
In the last game between these two teams, the Raptors earned a 101-84 victory in Miami. They won despite playing without Kyle Lowry, who was rehabbing after wrist surgery, and Serge Ibaka, who missed the game as a result of his part in an in-game altercation with Robin Lopez of the Chicago Bulls. DeMar DeRozan led the way offensively, scoring 40 points for Toronto in 36 minutes on 14-for-25 field goals. He got an assist from the bench as sophomores Delon Wright and Norman Powell combined for 27 points and rookie Jakob Poeltl who was a +30 in his 23 minutes off the bench.
The Heat lost despite having six players reach double figures. Toronto outrebounded Miami 51-36 in the game and notched the victory despite having just 10 assists to 20 dimes for the Heat. The win was another comeback victory for the Raptors, who trailed by 15 points in the opening quarter before stepping up their defence and getting much needed stops.
Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup in Toronto's victory against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. It was his first game after missing the previous 21 following surgery on his right wrist. Lowry hadn't played since the All-Star break, meaning he hadn't gotten the chance to share the floor with P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka, Toronto's trade deadline acquisitions.
Lowry was sensational in his return, suiting up — and re-joining the starting lineup — for the first time in more than six weeks. He led the Raptors in scoring with 27 points in 42 minutes as he showed little evidence of his time away from the floor. He added 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals against the Pistons, shooting 9-for-16 from the floor and 7-for-7 from the free throw line while also stepping in to take a charge late in the game as the Raptors returned from a 20-point deficit to collect a 105-102 victory.
With three games remaining in the regular season, Lowry will look to continue developing on-court chemistry with Ibaka and Tucker as well as play himself back into a groove. Toronto went 14-7 in his absence, but no one is happier to have Lowry back than backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan.
"He's the team," DeRozan said. "He runs us and he showed it [against Detroit], he got us back in the game. He's definitely one of a kind. There are no words I can put in context that will explain it. With these last two games to go, I'm happy we got him back and we have to try to get a rhythm."
After a disappointing loss in Indiana on Tuesday where Toronto fell apart after leading by 19 in the second quarter, the Raptors pulled off a comeback victory in Detroit on Wednesday, defeating the Pistons after trailing by 20 in the second quarter. The role reversal was welcomed as the team wanted to return home to the Air Canada Centre on a positive note, but with just three games remaining in the regular season, Tuesday's game was an important reminder of the need to compete for a full 48 minutes.
"We've got to understand, we've got to pick it up [right] out of the gate and play the way we played in the fourth quarter [against the Pistons]," DeMar DeRozan said.
With playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference still not set, DeRozan and the Raptors are focused on their own play rather than what's happening around them.
"We've just got to play," he said. "[Now that Kyle has returned], we've got three games left to try to get everything in that we need and be as close to 100 precent as possible come next weekend."