The Miami Heat were eliminated from the 2016 NBA Playoffs with a 116-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 on Sunday, unable to overcome a combined 63 points from the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Toronto and Miami shot about the same from the field, but the Raptors took 20 more free throw attempts and out-rebounded the "micro small" Heat by 20, including a 20-7 edge on the offensive glass which allowed them to attempt 13 more shots.
Though they played from behind for almost the entirety of the game, the Heat were able to keep within striking distance until the final quarter when everything unraveled. They benefitted from balanced scoring, with six players and all five starters reaching double-figures but no one had a breakout game to boost Miami.
The Heat's starting backcourt of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic also led their team in scoring, but only had 16 points each and neither shot particularly well, with both players converting on six field goals on a combined 30 attempts.
Miami briefly led twice in the game but each time they threatened, Toronto would have an answer for them by way of a dagger 3-pointer from Lowry, a midrange jumper by DeRozan, or a strong inside move from starting center Bismack Biyombo. Not helping matters was the Heat's small lineup which would consistently get beaten on the glass, allowing the Raptors to get multiple attempts at the basket.
The Heat were visibly frustrated with the officiating several times but the free throw disparity was mostly a by-product of Toronto's aggressiveness and recognition of the almost-zero rim protection in the absence of Hassan Whiteside.
Though the bitter loss and the lost chance to face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals stings, there is no question that the Heat took a significant step forward by only falling short by one game to reach one of the final four spots in the entire league. All this despite the loss of Chris Bosh in the middle of the season for a second year in a row is an accomplishment in and of itself, but young players such as rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson also soaked in valuable playoff experience.
Overall, the impressive finish to the season will only further boost Miami as a premiere free agent destination, with the promise to a key free agent that they can be the missing piece for the team to once again become a true title contender. Important questions remain such as the future of Whiteside in addition to Bosh and how much money Wade will command as he re-negotiates a new contract. For now, the Heat will need some time to absorb this heavy loss, but it will be right back to work very soon in a critical offseason for this franchise.