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Game Preview: Heat visit Raptors

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The Miami Heat will face the Toronto Raptors for the first time since losing Game 7 of the East semis last year.

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are hoping get a great win to start a challenging two game trip away from Miami. After they visit the Raptors, they head to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder. Toronto is coming off 113-103 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. They are favored to win the game with a line of 7.5.

Miami Heat (2-2) @ Toronto Raptors (3-1)
7:30 PM EST @ Air Canada Centre in Toronto, ON
TV: SunSports // Radio: 790 the Ticket

Miami: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Luke Babbitt, Hassan Whiteside
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas

Miami: Wayne Ellington, OUT; Chris Bosh, OUT; Josh Richardson, QUESTIONABLE
Toronto: Delon Wright, OUT; Jared Sullinger, OUT

Toronto is a top 3 team in the Eastern Conference. This will be a very challenging matchup for the Heat for several reasons. The first starts with Jonas Valanciunas. For whatever reason, he has typically played well for the Raptors against Hassan Whiteside. He is crafty around the basket, is a terrific offensive rebounder, and can shoot from mid-range. Whiteside will have to be consistent and stay out of foul trouble to neutralize this matchup.

Next, DeMar DeRozan will have a matchup advantage against whoever lines up next to him. He can get any shot that he wants and is a very athletic player. The Heat will need a group effort to slow him down. Lastly, Kyle Lowry has to be kept in check and constantly challenged on both ends by Goran Dragic. The Heat cannot lose all three of those matchups and expect to win.

On the offensive end, the Heat will need some bench contribution. Tyler Johnson has to play well and at least one other player has to step up and have a productive outing. On the road, against a good team, that’s what it will take. The question is who will it be...if any?

Lastly, the Heat could see a great boost if Josh Richardson is allowed to play. He is currently questionable.

Prediction: Toronto 109, Heat 99.