- PG: Goran Dragic
- SG: Dwyane Wade
- SF: Joe Johnson
- PF: Luol Deng
- C: Amar’e Stoudemire
Game 6 Pick & Preview of Toronto Raptors vs Miami Heat
A trip to the Eastern Conference Finals awaits if the Toronto Raptors can close out the Miami Heat tonight, as the two get together in South Beach for an intense game six.
Both sides were already down their top centers going into game five, but come game six they could be even more banged up than usual. Both Hassan Whiteside and Jonas Valanciunas remain ruled out, while forwards Luol Deng and DeMarre Carroll are in question with wrist issues. Deng is officially listed as questionable ahead of Friday night’s tilt, while Carroll is probable to play.
A very tight series seemed to unravel a bit early on in game five for Miami, as they fell behind big in the first quarter and struggled to recover for much of the game. The Heat did manage to keep it interesting late, but Toronto stood firm on their home floor and now puts the pressure on Dwyane Wade and co. with game six shifting back to Florida.
This has been an incredibly close series with three OT games and every single game being decided by 8 points or less. Miami enters as the favorites at home in a series many expected to go a full seven games, and it’s tough to deny that logic with Miami holding a strong record at home during the regular season. Can Toronto off-set Miami’s stellar home court play, or will Wade show up with another big game to give us the only full seven game series of the second round of the 2016 NBA playoffs?
Miami Heat Preview
There isn’t a whole lot for Miami to complain about, as this series has gone about as well as they had hoped with a game one road win and a chance to push things to a seventh game tonight.
Losing star center Hassan Whiteside to a knee injury proved to be massive in game five, however, as DeMar DeRozan finally was able to freely penetrate and get easy intermediate jumpers en route to a 34-point outing. That should have Miami worried, as their defense has remained solid throughout the series, but now they may have a problem with containing the Raptors’ most lethal scorer. Whiteside’s presence as a rim protector had kept DeRozan grounded for much of the series, but judging by the last game, the floodgates could have been opened for DMR to take this series over.
That is one reason why the Heat will hope for Deng to be good to go, as they need his aggressive defense to help keep DeRozan from taking over again. They also need Deng to show up offensively – something he really hasn’t done in this entire series.
The good news is Miami has been about where they want to be in terms of pace and they continue to match up fairly well with Toronto. That should allow for another close game, but if Miami wants to win they need more help behind Dwyane Wade. Wade has been carrying the offense for the majority of the playoffs, but got some strong performances out of point guard Goran Dragic to end round one and begin round two. Since game two, however, Dragic hasn’t been quite as aggressive or nearly as effective.
For Miami to win at home on Friday, they need a big game from Wade, continued defensive effort and guys like Dragic and Deng to step up and deliver.
|5/11/16||at Raptors||Lost 99-91|
|5/9/16||VS Raptors||Win 94-87 (OT)|
|5/7/16||VS Raptors||WLost 95-91|
|5/5/16||at Raptors||Lost 96-92 (OT)|
|5/3/16||at Raptors||Win 102-96 (OT)|
Toronto Raptors Preview
As much as this series has seemingly gone in Miami’s favor, the Raptors still enter game six with an opportunity to wrap things up, while they don’t have nearly as much pressure, knowing a game seven awaits bac in Canada if they don’t have their best stuff.
Toronto has been cooking with gas lately, winning three of the last four meetings in this series following a game one loss on their home floor. Their pace and solid all-around defense has not done Miami any favors, while the loss of their center has been easier to mend than it has been for Miami. Depth is the big reason why, as big man Bismack Biyombo picked up where Jonas V left off and gives the Raptors a constant defensive presence and even has surprised as a solid offensive asset against a depleted Miami frontcourt.
- PG: Kyle Lowry
- SG: DeMar DeRozan
- SF: DeMarre Carroll
- PF: Patrick Patterson
- C: Bismack Biyombo
It’s anyone’s guess if Toronto can come out with the same intensity that helped them storm out to an early lead in game five, but it may not even matter. The way both of these teams play tends to work in Toronto’s favor, as they have the superior defense, better depth inside and two go-to scorers to Miami’s one. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the heart and soul of this team, yet they’ve both run hot and cold throughout post-season play. If they ever both can be on at the same time, it’s arguable the Raptors could be somewhat unstoppable.
Toronto in general feels very much like a team on a mission, as they have now lasted longer in the playoffs than ever before in team history. Their remarkable offensive balance and willingness to defend is a big reason why, and if both are on display on Friday night, they could advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time ever.
|5/11/16||VS Heat||Win 99-91|
|5/9/16||at Heat||Lost 94-87 (OT)|
|5/7/16||at Heat||Win 95-91|
|5/5/16||VS Heat||Win 96-92 (OT)|
|5/3/16||VS Heat||Lost 102-96 (OT)|
Matchup Preview: Heat @ Raptors
The early mild edge has to go to Miami just because they’re back home and there is so much on the line. Dwyane Wade is no stranger to this stage, either, as he’ll be suiting up for his 18th playoff elimination game, a situation he’s found a way to come out on top in more often than not with a 10-7 record. That includes Wade bringing the clutch to the table in round one against the Hornets, where he put the team on his back to get two straight wins to advance to round two.
|5/11/16||Raptors 99, Heat 91|
|5/9/16||Heat 94, Raptors 87 (OT)|
|5/7/16||Raptors 95, Heat 91|
|5/5/15||Raptors 96, Heat 92 (OT)|
|5/3/16||Heat 102, Raptors 96 (OT)|
|3/12/16||Raptors 112, Heat 104 (OT)|
|1/22/16||Raptors 101, Heat 81|
|12/15/15||Raptors 108, Heat 94|
|11/8/15||Heat 96, Raptors 76|
The only problem with Wade’s elimination game stats is that this isn’t necessarily just about him. Wade and the Heat playing at home are good reasons to vouch for Miami, but we also need to consider Toronto’s ambition, balance, defensive aptitude and the fact that they know a win gets them into the Eastern Conference Finals.
If you believe in Wade and a home court edge, Miami is tough to scoff at heading into game six. Logic could prevail in this one, however, as Toronto is a fairly battled tested team on the road (24-17 away from home during the regular season) and has the advantage in size and depth at the moment.
|Win/Loss||48-34 (28-13 at home)||56-26 (24-17 away)|
Recommended Game 6 Bet
Maybe it’s not all about logic. Some of the NBA playoffs is about heart, will and determination. Wade has that in spades, Miami is well coached by Erik Spoelstra and they still have a bunch of quality players that shouldn’t wilt under the pressure now that their backs are against the wall.
The big reason why is because we saw Miami survive a 3-2 deficit in the first round and Toronto already allowed an inferior team in the Pacers to get to seven games. Miami is better, plays their best ball at home and is going to come out as aggressive as ever in the first quarter.
That’s all believable, but the other key factor is it’s still impossible to fully trust these Raptors. They haven’t even been this far in the playoffs and it stands to reason that they still aren’t sure how to advance to the next round. An educated guess suggests they struggle to figure it out for at least one game, giving both of these teams a second game seven in these playoffs. Expect another tight game, but Miami should defend their turf and keep us from the conference finals for another day.
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