Game Preview: Raptors vs Heat
Toronto Raptors (25-10) @ Miami Heat (15-16)
When: Wednesday, December 26th, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
Injury Report: For the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas is out with a dislocated left thumb. The availability of Serge Ibaka (swollen right knee) is to be determined. For the Heat, the injury report is to be determined.
Shake off: With a three-day break for the holiday distancing the Raptors from their 126-101 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the team would like to get back on track with a win against the Heat. Toronto’s loss to the Sixers was the team’s first loss in a back-to-back this season, where the team is 6-1 this season. On the positive side, Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup for the Raptors in Philadelphia, after missing the previous four games with a thigh contusion. Lowry is averaging 14.4 points and 9.8 assists per game this season.
Recent history: Wednesday’s game will be the second meeting between the Raptors and Heat this season. Toronto previously earned a 125-115 victory over Miami at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 25 behind a 29-point performance from Kawhi Leonard and 21 points (on 8-for-9 field goals) from Pascal Siakam. Kyle Lowry also added a 12-point, 10-assist double-double for the Raptors. The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade’s 35 points off the bench, as well as a 16-point, 21-rebound effort from Bam Adebayo in the loss.
Heating up: The Heat enter Wednesday’s game on a season-high five-game winning streak. Miami’s most recent victory came against the Orlando Magic — who the Raptors will face after Wednesday’s game. It was a 24-point victory, which was the team’s largest margin of victory in a game this season. Tyler Johnson scored a game-high 25 points for the Heat, including 20 points in the third quarter to help Miami take a 19-point lead heading into the fourth. Justise Winslow added 22 points for the Heat.
Switching it up: Things have been a bit of an adventure in availability for the Raptors coaching staff over the past few weeks. With various players in and out of the lineup with injury, head coach Nick Nurse has had to experiment with quite a few different lineup combinations. After using 12 different starting lineup combinations last year, the team has already used 13 this year. While Toronto’s starting five of Danny Green, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam has outscored opponents by 71 points in minutes, the last time this unit has appeared in the same game for Toronto was Dec. 9 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Family affair: When Delon Wright’s older brother, Dorell, was drafted by the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade was Delon’s favourite NBA player. Over Dorell’s time with the Heat, Delon became close with Wade and the two are still tight today. After Toronto’s meeting with the Heat in November, Wade took to his Instagram to post a heartfelt message about facing off against an opponent who will remain as family long after his own playing career is finished.