The Miami Heat, led by LeBron James, invade the Air Canada Centre Sunday afternoon. You may have heard this team is playing well recently. Their last loss was February 1 in Indiana; since then they have managed 21 consecutive victories. The Heat needed overtime but once, when 2 periods were required to overcome the Sacramento Kings, of all people. The fewest points they have scored in one game is 86, but they held Chicago to a risible 67. Game One of their mind-boggling streak was here in Hogtown, a 100-85 victory. Can Toronto be the city where it ends?
Summarizing the Heat in a few words is challenging, as they are so powerful. LeBron is having one of the greatest individual seasons in NBA history. Apart from his eye-popping offensive statistics, he is being mentioned as a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Most analysts have already conceded him the Most Valuable Player trophy (me too, unless he has a severe dropoff in production while Kevin Durant continues to roll), but to win DPOY as well would be a huge coup. Dwyane Wade is having another stellar season, as is some Bosh guy. Miami’s second unit might start if they were in Charlotte or Detroit. Veterans like Ray Allan, still a feared 3-point bomber, glue guy Shane Battier, and interior force Chris Anderson can make life miserable.
I’m not doing 3 keys to victory for this game. I don’t want to write fatuous nonsense like “Stop LeBron!”, since I have no idea how to do that, nor does anyone else. The Raps are going to have to play their best game of the season; if we see the sputtering offense and silly turnovers we did against the Bobcats, there’s no chance. Jonas Valanciunas will have to stay in the game, and to do so will require him avoiding the reach-in fouls which have plagued him. Miami might be vulnerable to scoring from the centre spot, assuming we can get the ball inside safely.
The Raps played this team very tough in Miami, losing in overtime. The Heat helped the Raps out on Friday night, handing the Milwaukee Bucks their third straight defeat. Despite the Raps’ record, there’s still a glimmer of hope for a playoff spot. Surely that’s sufficient motivation to turn in a great game.
While there’s little rationale for doing so, I’ll pick the Raps to stun Miami, and all of the NBA, by grabbing a 103-101 victory.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.