Nov 3, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) reacts after making a three point basket during the second half against the Washington Wizards at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami HEAT vs Toronto Raptors - 3 keys to victory (or at least a close game)

In recent years the Toronto Raptors have struggled against the Miami Heat, losing the last 11 games they’ve played. Miami plays hard defense and will score off turnovers and compete every game and that’s why they are two-time defending champions. However, they have begun the season sluggishly, with a 2-2 record. The Raps can win this game, and here’s how:

  1. Crash the boards: Ever since the big three of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade joined forces in Miami, the Heat have enjoyed success in all elements of the game save rebounds. The Raps currently lead the NBA in average rebounds per game with 50. Tyler Hansbrough is perfect for this type of game because he plays physical and leaves everything on the court. Miami’s frontcourt of Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Chris Bosh are all small for their positions, so the Raps’ Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and Hansbrough will enjoy a height and bulk advantage.
  2. Limit turnovers: Toronto Raptors has to win the turnover battle,which means our point guards, Kyle Lowry and D.J. Augustin, and the occasionally careless Rudy Gay must handle the ball with care. LeBron has amazingly fast hands, and will strip the ball away, or intercept a sloppy pass, in a heartbeat.
  3. Keep them on the perimeter, but close out on their shooters: Dwayne Casey will need to create a solid defensive game plan to contain the Heat’s outside shooting. Ray Allen can still destroy a team with the fastest shot release I’ve ever seen. Playing 2 -3 zone defense would help limit Miami’s 3 point shooting. The Raps need to pick their poison. Do you want the Heat to shoot 3s or force them to score in the paint? If I’m coaching, I’ll take my chances defending the paint, as you can lose control of a game very quickly if a lot of 3s are pouring in.

Oct 30, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough (50) gets a basket against the Boston Celtics at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Boston 93-87. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Will we see Quincy Acy attempt to guard LeBron? Let’s hope so. I think it’s a worthwhile idea.

Do the Raps have a chance against Miami? Yes they do. I think Toronto will keep the game close, but Miami will pull away late. Final result is 105 Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors 95. Head over heart – sorry, Raps fans.

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Tags: LeBron James Miami Heat Rudy Gay Toronto Raptors

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