With four games played in the best-of-seven series, three of which required overtime, the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat are tied with two wins apiece. Here is our preview, with betting picks’ and predictions, for the all-important game five, taking place at the Air Canada Centre today (8pm ET, Wednesday).
Having barely managed to get past the Indiana Pacers, the Raptors entered a second round series with the Heat. Miami had also needed the full seven games to get past the Charlotte Hornets. The first game saw Toronto take a one basket lead into the second half, only to get outscored by seven points against the Heat in the third quarter, leading to the overtime. Miami scored 12 points in the period, leading to an opening series road victory over Toronto.
Game two also couldn’t be decided within the course of 48 minutes. Once again, Toronto had the first half lead, including a 10-point lead after the first quarter. Once again, it was being outscored in the third quarter, this time by nine that led to the Raptors and the Heat battling it out in overtime. Unlike in the first game however, Toronto, which has had trouble closing out games all season, managed to score 10 points and bring home the four-point victory.
The third game of the series was the only one not to necessitate five extra minutes but to say it wasn’t competitive would be incorrect. The Raptors, for the third time in the series, maintained a first quarter lead and managed to enter the second half up nine. But the Heat continued to perform their best in their favorite quarter, cutting the deficit to zero upon the start of the fourth. Toronto managed to close out another game though, once again taking the four point victory and regaining home court advantage.
Down 2-1, Miami entered into a semi must-win game four at American Airlines Arena. For the first time in the series, the Heat had the lead entering the first quarter and carried it through the half. Down nine, it was the Raptors that needed the third quarter comeback. Toronto outscored their opponents by 11 and despite taking the two point lead into the final quarter, needed overtime to close out the game. All credit to Miami there where the team scored 11 points, outscoring the Raptors by seven to end the game, which stands so far as the largest margin of victory in this series.
Injuries have plagued Miami all season and it’s a trend that seems to be continuing. After losing Chris Bosh to blood clots earlier in the year, the Heat are now also going to be without Hassan Whiteside, who was averaging a double-double (14.2 PPG/ 11.8 RPG) on the season and a double-double (12 PPG/ 10.9 RPG) in the postseason. His 17 rebounds in game one were a huge reason why Miami was able to get that win.
Meanwhile on Toronto’s side, Jonas Valanciunas has been ruled out for the remainder of the series after sustaining an ankle injury in game three. Valanciunas’ presence will be greatly missed as with an average of 15 points and 12.1 rebounds this series and scoring in double digits in all but two of his last 35 games, the big seven-footer is the team’s second leading scorer this postseason.
In a way, Whiteside and Valanciunas’ absences somewhat cancel each other out. That said, the real question on which team ends up victorious could depend on who ends up missing their big man more.
Toronto’s X-Factors: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry
During the regular season DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were the reason the Raptors managed to finish in second place in the Eastern Conference and to win the Atlantic Division. The two guards averaged a combined 44.7 points, with DeRozan leading the way with 23.5. They also combined for 9.2 rebounds and 10.4 assists.
In the first series against the Pacers however, one of the Raptors’ biggest problems was that these two could just not get going. Neither DeRozan nor Lowry were really providing any sort of consistency. Sure, DeRozan topped 30 points in two of the team’s wins, but he also netted a combined 16 in two of their losses. The same went for Lowry, who had just 33 points in Toronto’s three losses and 64 in their victories.
But against the Heat, both DeRozan and Lowry have gotten hot and have once again gone back to being the reasons why Toronto is winning games. Lowry is averaging 17 points this series with 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds. DeRozan has been averaging 17.5 with 5.8 rebounds. Aside from Valanciunas, these two have been the primary source of scoring for Toronto and will have to continue to be if the Raptors hope to win another postseason series. That would be just their second since the 2000-01 season.
Miami’s X-Factor: Dwayne Wade
With Bosh still unlikely to be able to return and Whiteside ruled out for an undisclosed amount of time, Dwayne Wade (pictured) has taken the team on his back and in the process is turning back the clock to the last time he did that in 2006, the year the Heat won the NBA championship.
Wade has upped his points per game from an average of 19 in the regular season to 22 in the playoffs, scoring no fewer than 12 in a single game. In this series in particular, Wade has dropped at least 17 per contest, averaging 27.3 points and six rebounds. He is coming off of dropping a total of 68 points across the last two games.
If the Heat hope to advance, the role players are going to have to continue to step up behind Wade. So far, Goran Dragic (15.6 PPG) and Luol Deng (15.3 PPG) have done just that, but perhaps without Whiteside, the Heat are going to need a little more. Despite what he’s done so far, Wade can’t do everything.
Our Preview’s Final Prediction: Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors Game 5 Betting Picks
- Returning home to Toronto, the Raptors are favored by 4.5 points. This series has really swung back and forth but with Whiteside’s injury and Lowry’s emergence, it’s hard to pick against Toronto at home. So our preview’s betting pick is to take the Raptors -4.5pts @ -110 betting odds with any of Bovada, BetOnline or 5Dimes sportsbooks.
- As for the total points in this game 5, take the under 188pts @ best odds of -105 with Bovada. The other two USA sportsbooks are at 118.5pts @ -110.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.