The Miami Heat did what they have grown so accustom to doing this season. Play in neutral for the beggining of the game, a commonalty against sub 500 teams, and when they seemingly feel like it, attempt to turn the intensity meter up and put forth the defensive effort that makes them so difficult to beat.
That didn't work so well this time because despite the record, the Toronto Raptors are actually a pretty tough team with two of the best "statistical" point guards in the NBA.
Jose Calderon is the league leader in Assist/TO ratio at 4.56 and "backup" Kyle Lowry ranks 10th at 2.86. The translation? The Raptors don't turn the ball over that much and that limits Miami's most propelling weapon: transition points.
In the final minutes of regulation both teams exchanged baskets but with the game tied at 109, LeBron James missed game winning shot from the top of the key that forced overtime.
Dwyane Wade took over in overtime, where he scored eight of his game high 35 points to go along with 7 assists and 5 rebounds. The Heat scored 11 straight points in overtime and put the game away.
LeBron James was stellar as well and racked up his second triple double of the season. James finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and a game high 11 assists.
Before todays game, Erik Spoelstra had stressed that forcing turnovers was more important to Miami's success then their rebounding woes but because of the Raptors careful point guard play, the Heat were only able to force 8 turnovers and subsequently only scored 12 fast break points.
Playing against his former team, Chris Bosh relatively flew under the radar tonight, something he's seemingly done throughout this season. Bosh did however do a solid job on the glass, grabbing a game high 12 rebounds and double doubling with 12 points.
Miami absolutely dominated the Raptors on the glass, out-rebounding them 53-29. Udonis Haslem collected 10 rebounds and Shane Battier chipped in with 7 rebounds.
This game probably wouldn't have been as close if the Heat didn't struggle from the free throw line tonight, Wade and Bosh specifically. They combined to shoot 15-27 from the charity stripe.
In retrospect, the Toronto Raptors are a much better team then their 15-27 record. Tonight, the Raptors had seven players who scored in double digits, shot 50% for the game and connected on fourteen 3-pointers.
With Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas still sidelined, the extended time Kyle Lowry missed due to injury and the emergence of Ed Davis, the Raptors are making playoff push and currently sit 5 and a half games out of the 8th seed.
The Heat will look to continue their winning streak on Friday, when they host the rookie stud, currently imprisoned by coach Lawrence Frank, Andre Drummond and the Detriot Pistons.