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PREVIEW: Heat (22-17) visit Raptors (28-10) with opportunity to tie Wizards for 4th place in the East

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Miami hits the road for a back-to-back set in Toronto and Indiana to finish the first half of season.

Utah Jazz vs. Miami Heat Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

The Miami Heat (22-17) face the formidable Toronto Raptors (28-10) in the first night of a back-to-back set of games, with a chance to earn a tie for fourth-place on the line. The Washington Wizards and Heat have split their season series, wining one game each, but the Wizards hold a 6-point advantage in points scored.

The Heat have won four close games in a row, featuring an overtime victory against the New York Knicks and managing to get a last minute, one-point win over the Utah Jazz.

Game Information

When: Tuesday, January 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada

TV: Fox Sports Sun

Radio: WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Win probability: ESPN predictor gives Miami a 21% chance to win the game.

Probable Starters

HEAT: Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside

RAPTORS: Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas

Injury Report

HEAT: Rodney McGruder (out, tibia surgery), Okaro White (out, foot surgery), Justise Winslow (out, knee strain), Dion Waiters (out, ankle sprain)

RAPTORS: Kyle Lowry (to be determined)

Scouting Report

Raptors are 8-2, and Miami 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Raptors are 14-1 at home, while the Heat is 11-8 at on the road. Miami has won 14 of 23 games against Eastern Conference teams. Raptors have won 17 of their 21 games teams in the East.

Dragic leads the Heat in points per game (16.7) and assists (4.8), Whiteside in rebounds (11.5) and blocks (1.5), Richardson in steals (1.3). DeRozan leads the Raptors in points per game (25.3), Lowry in assists (7.0), Valanciunas in rebounds (7.8), Ibaka in blocks (1.6), DeRozan in steals (1.2).

The Sunday Jan. 14th game against the Milwaukee Bucks marks the anniversary of last season’s improbable 13-game winning streak and 30-11 finish for the season. First though Miami has to take care of business against a tough set of rivals.

Toronto returns home after defeating the Brooklyn Nets in overtime, 114-113, the previous evening. DeRozan played 42 minutes, Ibaka 39 and Lowry 38 in a game which lasted past 10 pm. Lowry suffered a nasty fall with a minute left in the overtime period, so his status for Heat’s game has yet to be determined.

Damn, Kyle Lowry went down HARD on this play

Lowry started all 38 of the Raptors previous at point guard. Whether VanVleet or Delon Wright get the start, the Heat’s game strategy will need adjusting to account for Lowry’s absence.

Toronto owns the best home record in the NBA at 14-1. They also trail only the Golden State Warriors in point differential per game so far this season at +7.9. Miami is 21st with a negative -1.3.

Toronto has averaged the most points scored in the East at 112.1, and allowed 104.2, which is worse than Miami, who gave up the third least points at 102.2. Interestingly the Raptors are last in 3-point FG%, 35.0%, among Eastern Conference teams, while the Heat is third from the bottom in 3-point FG%, 37.7%, allowed. Maybe Miami will make Toronto look like three-point sharpshooters.

One key to the game per Raptors Rapture.

“Get to the line – According to Cleaningtheglass.com, Miami currently ranks 27th in Defensive FTRate. Meaning they foul opponents more than nearly any other team. With DeMar DeRozan being one of the best in the league at getting to the free-throw line, the Raptors can take full advantage of this.”

From Raptors HQ, “The Raptors will also be set to see the newly validated [ex-Raptor] James ‘I just signed a fat, 4 yr. $60M contract this offseason’ Johnson.”

Olynyk makes a quick trip back to his home town of Toronto. Kelly has a college degree in accounting, is two semesters shy of a MBA, and says, “I like to spend [money] on good food.”

NBA scouts and some executives will be in the Toronto metro area this week for the annual G-League showcase event Jan. 10-13, 2018. Feelers about possible trades might be talked about as team representatives have some informal meetings.