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HHH Game Time Preview: Miami Heat win or go home in Toronto for Game 7

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Statistics do not win life-or-death contests: preparation does. Knowing there is no second chance for either team after this game, Miami's game plan will decide on where the team plane lands next.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In typical Pat Riley fashion the Miami Heat team plane departs for Cleveland after the game to give players the clear message on what he expects next. Scoring over 100 points in regulation time for the first time, due to a key assist/ turnover ratio improvement, signaled the Heat were not in any mood to see the Toronto Raptors celebrate on their home floor.

Dan Craig returns from Sioux Falls

Miami Heat coaches are Erik Spoelstra, David Fizdale, Keith Smart and Juwan Howard, with Pat Riley and Dan Craig giving valuable insight. A respected basketball genius like Riley observing the action remains a hidden asset for Miami. Craig's unannounced appearance in the locked preceded the insertion of Justise Winslow as the nominal starting center.

Guiding the Skyforce to unprecedented 46-11 record, the former Heat assistant coach has experience in making personnel decisions on the fly, because NBA D-league teams have roster changes on an almost weekly basis. NBADL players are younger, more raw and athletic than their NBA counterparts, so handling their style of play comes naturally to him.

Dwyane Wade lives for fourth quarter

Admittedly saying the regular season doesn't mean much to him, Wade is not ready to come off the bench yet. No doubt that he feels most alive when the game is on the line, he recorded a monster stat sheet in Game 6 with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocked shots. Eight points and two blocks came in the 4th quarter when he turned on his defensive jets to another level.

This time the Raptors coach Dwane Casey will game plan for a small-ball Heat squad, so Spoelstra won't have that element of surprise. One element does not change though is the Raptors go as far as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan take them.

The key to balancing their strengths and weaknesses is what they bring offensively, they give up defensively. Being short compared to players over 6'4", Lowry had a major problem by almost getting ejected twice with 11 personal fouls in two games.

RaptorsHQ view

Game 7 preview from SB Nation's Raptors' blog has these suggested adjustments for the Raptors:

  • Get into the primary offense quicker
  • What’s the rotation?
  • Defend the point of attack
  • Take advantage of home court bias

Reality check from Oddsshark

Computer model has a final score of Heat 98, Raptors 100 (ouch). Oddsshark's take is "The Toronto Raptors are just one win away from a first-ever trip to the Eastern Conference Finals but when it comes to covering the spread during their postseason run, the Raps have been a frustrating proposition."

Key to Heat victory

Create enough space for running backs to shot the gap to the rim.

Wade's brilliant pass from a double-team to Richardson (see video below) set up the high-percentage basket. Raptors' strategy has been to double-and-triple team Dragic, Wade and Joe Johnson into turnovers or bad last-second shots.

The temptation to avoid forcing an ill-advised iso-basket, but finding a teammate with a clear path to the rim, is the biggest contribution Goran, Dwayne and Joe can make. This involves opening up the floor by drawing defenders to them to create unimpeded access to the basket for someone else (this does NOT include players in white uniforms), i.e. acting as tackles to give running backs room to shot the gap. Justise, JR, Tyler, Luol, McBob are terrific finishers at the rim when their defenders leave them open to stop the ball-handler.

Game Notes

  • Wade is eleven points short of tying John Havlicek (3,776) for 12th place on the NBA all-time post-season scoring list.
  • Raptors are 6-5 in the post-season, despite being outscored by an average of 93.1-95.1 over 11 games, while the Heat are also 6-5, but outscored their opponents by 97.5-92.0 margin.
  • Heat have yet to lose in the last twelve times they scored over 100 points in a playoff game.
  • Heat are 2-0 this postseason on Sundays.

Key Tweets

Key Video

Josh Richardson blew by Kyle Lowry on this monster dunk.

Lowry has a defensive rating under 100, but his non-existent defense against explosive players can be exploited if Heat clear out painted area for drives to the rim to taking advantage of Lowry's lack of height.

Probable Starters

Miami

  • Luol Deng
  • Joe Johnson
  • Justise Winslow
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Goran Dragic

Toronto

  • DeMarre Carroll
  • Patrick Patterson
  • Bismack Biyombo
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Kyle Lowry

Broadcast Info

  • Tip-Off: 3:30 pm ET
  • TV: ABC (local and national)
  • Radio: 790-AM The Ticket, 106.3-FM
  • Radio en Espanol: WRTO MIX 98.3-FM
  • SiriusXM NBA