- Toronto Raptors host the Miami Heat in the second game of mini-set in Tampa
- Miami won Wednesday, holding Toronto to just 19 fourth-quarter points
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
The Miami Heat have always proven to be competitive, no matter who’s in the lineup.
While that vaunted culture and stellar defense worked to perfection in a victory in the opener of their mini-set with the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night, will they be able to sustain it with so much firepower sidelined again?
That’s likely why Toronto, who had their 3-game win streak snapped by an undermanned Heat team, are the 2-point favorites Friday night in Tampa.
Heat vs Raptors Odds
|Miami Heat||+2 (-110)||+108||N/A|
|Toronto Raptors||-2 (-110)||-126||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken January 20 Tip-off is Friday at 7:30pm ET
This was appointment viewing a year ago, but the Heat have been sluggish coming out of the gate, sitting just 6-7 and 10th in the East. Toronto, meanwhile, got off to the the most disappointing start of any good team this year, and they’re at 5-9, a lowly 13th in the conference.
Heat Holding The Fort
It was all hands on deck Wednesday night in Miami’s 111-102 win over the Raptors. Head coach Erik Spoelstra used all eight players that were available, with COVID forcing both Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley to the sidelines, with Tyler Herro missing the game with a neck injury and Meyers Leonard nursing a shoulder injury.
Kendrick Nunn has been on a tear as of late.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 21, 2021
Turns out, Miami can still be a problem to deal with. Kendrick Nunn stepped up to fill the offensive void, potting 28 points on 9-for-12 shooting in 35 minutes. He was flanked by Kelly Olynyk, who had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Their engine on both ends of the floor continues to be Bam Adebayo. Named to his first all-star team last season, Bam has stuffed the stat sheet in the early season — he’s the only NBA player averaging at least 19.5 points, nine rebounds, five assists, 1.2 blocks and one steal.
This defensive possession from Bam Adebayo is stellar pic.twitter.com/qugT0aEHCS
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 21, 2021
Miami also made their mark on the defensive end, particularly in the fourth quarter, where they held the Raptors to 6-for-21 shooting (28.6%) for 19 total points. Miami sprinkled in plenty of zone looks, which stalled the Raptors’ offense.
They’ll need that effort again, as the Butler, Herro, Bradley and Leonard have already been ruled out in the rematch.
Raptors Slowly Rising
The Toronto Raptors are not the usual pencil-in-for-a-win squad we’d come to expect over the past five years of success. This year, there’s a clear void of talent, and it begins with the failed signings to replace Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
Aaron Baynes is a non-factor, and the team just waived Alex Len. That’s forced Chris Boucher, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby to log the major minutes in the trenches. While the effort is there, it’s hard to imagine Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri expecting them to do all the heavy lifting at the big-men spots.
— 〽️ark ©ollins (@MarkColt44) January 15, 2021
For all the offensive talent they have, the Raptors’ bread and butter has always been defense. Last year, the team was second in defensive rating in the NBA. This year, they’ve plummeted to 14th. Their offensive rating ranks 13th, where they were last season.
Always dunk your cookies pic.twitter.com/v7FzIM7cN8
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 21, 2021
Closing out possessions has been one of their big problems. The Raptors are 26th in second chance points allowed per game, surrendering 14.4 a contest, part of ranking 24th in defensive rebounding.
They’ve stayed afloat by getting faster and opportunistic: Toronto is second in the NBA in fast break points and eighth in points off turnovers. If they can get their defensive problems sorted out, they should find themselves back in the playoff picture.
Siakam uses the euro in transition and finishes through contact! 💪
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) January 15, 2021
Siakam returning to better form has also been key. He’s averaging 18.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists on better than 45% shooting from the field in January, but he’s been abysmal shooting the three-ball. Siakam is 15-for-60 on the season, an ugly 25% clip.
What’s The Best Bet?
The Heat are gamers — their entire starting five could be injured and they’d still come up with a gameplan to maximize the most of what they have. But I don’t know if they can do it against the same team without their second and third leading scorers in Butler and Herro. Throw in Bradley and Leonard and that accounts for roughly 43% of the Heat’s average 110.3 points a game.
The Raptors hit a blip after a three-game winning streak. If they can find a way to generate good looks down the stretch, they should cover for you.
The pick: Raptors -2 (-110)
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