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Hot Heat set to host Raptors

The Heat ended their six-game road trip on a high note and come back home for the first time in two and a half weeks looking to avoid a letdown vs. the struggling Toronto Raptors.

Chris Bosh will look to outplay the player that replaced him in Toronto, Ed Davis.
Chris Bosh will look to outplay the player that replaced him in Toronto, Ed Davis.
Claus Andersen

The last two games of the Heat's longest road trip of the season were evidence of the notion that Miami has the ability to 'turn it on' whenever they like with a spike in defensive effort that spurns the team's transition offense and overall play.

We have shaken our heads at Miami's lapses in focus and let downs this season on occasion. Some of us have went too far in overreacting to it, but all in all, they are 26-12, and first in the Eastern Conference, so without anyone pushing them, their only competition is really themselves and history at this point.

So, can we blame them for turning it off and on? I will dismiss it as human nature if it becomes less and less frequent as the second half of the season kicks in. This game against Toronto is an opportunity to keep some momentum going in what could be a trap game for the Heat against a lowly opponent after such a good end to their road trip.

The Raptors (15-26) are sliding. They have lost six of their last nine games and have been playing some horrendous defense. They are a decent offense, however, and their duo of point guards (Kyle Lowry, Jose Calderon) are as formidable as any point guard rotation in the Eastern Conference. If Miami approaches this game with any intensity, the starters will be resting in the fourth quarter. If they don't, a solid offensive team might get it going and steal a game.

It's on them.


* Chris Bosh is set to play against his former team for the fifth time since departing in free agency to join Miami. In four games vs. the Raptors, Bosh has averaged 20 points and seven rebounds on 48 percent shooting.

* Looking for the next candidate to embarrass the Heat on the glass? Pay attention to Ed Davis, the player who has essentially replaced Bosh in Toronto. Davis has a total rebound percentage of 17 and he grabs 10 boards a game per 36 minutes on the season. Davis is averaging nearly a double-double in January with 14 points and 8 rebounds per game.

* Boy do the Raptors really get outstanding play from the point guard position. Calderon, the starter, has a 19.8 Player Efficiency Rating, second on the team, but his backup, Lowry, leads the team with a 22.4 PER. The Raptors aren't necessarily a good 3-point shooting team, but this duo leads the team in 3-point efficiency as well and can really get it going. Miami tends to give up the 3-ball. Norris Cole will have to lace his boots up and look to give the team another good defensive performance off the bench to stall these guys.

The good thing is the Raptors don't really offer much else.

* Remember when the Heat we're having an identity crisis and struggling defensively? The team is now 12th in the league in defensive rating. That's still moving up.