If we are being honest, the way that the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat have played through two games of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, it probably won’t matter which teams advances to presumably face the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals. The Heat and Raptors are tied at 1-1 as the series shifts to south Florida for Game 3 on Saturday. The Heat are -115 on NBA lines to win the series and the Raptors at -105.
Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat NBA Free Picks
When: Saturday, May 7, 5 PM ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena
NBA Odds: TBA
Raptors at Heat Game Background
The Heat won Game 1 in overtime and then Toronto did the same in Game 2 on Thursday, 96-92 in OT — so Miami has covered the 4.5-point spread in both games (and I picked them in both and still think they win the series). DeMarre Carroll scored 21 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead Toronto in Game 2.
Valanciunas came alive with 11 points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Raptors avoided losing consecutive games for the first time this postseason. DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points, Kyle Lowry had 18 and Terrence Ross 10 for Toronto, which battled back late in the fourth quarter for the second straight game.
After the Raptors fell down by seven in the fourth quarter, Valanciunas scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting with two steals to pull Toronto back into position, and Lowry hit two huge shots late despite shooting 7 for 22 from the field overall.
There were some negatives for Toronto, to be sure. Lowry and DeRozan combined to go 16-for-46 from the field — they have been struggling all postseason, especially Lowry. As a team, the Raptors missed 12 free throws, shot 4-for-18 from 3-point range and had one assist in the second half. Carroll blew a defensive assignment that allowed Goran Dragic to slip out for an uncontested 3-pointer that enabled Miami to send the game into the extra session.
The Raptors shot just 41.9 percent to Miami’s 49.4 percent. How often does it occur that one team shoots at least 49 percent from the field, its opponent shoots no better than 42 percent from the field, and the team with the worse field-goal percentage wins? Dating back to 1998, there have been 194 such postseason games. The Raptors are only the second team to win when shooting the lower percentage. Toronto shot 4-for-18 on threes and 14-for-26 on free throws. Lowry became the first player in NBA history to shoot less than 40 percent in nine consecutive playoff game (minimum 10 shots).
Dragic scored 20, and Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson each had 17 for the Heat. Hassan Whiteside had 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Luol Deng had 12 points. The Heat led 77-70 midway through the fourth.
Miami turned it over 21 times, including 11 in the first quarter. The total turnovers led to 24 Raptors points. Since taking a 2-0 series lead against the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, Miami has committed 109 turnovers in its past seven playoff games. Wade shot just 7-of-17 and Johnson 8-of-22 in Game 2. Dragic and Wade combined for only seven assists. Miami has assisted on only 26 of their 79 made field goals in the series, which is well below the rate of its season average. Miami missed 14 of its 20 attempts in late shot-clock situations.
Yet, the Heat still managed to hold a seven-point lead midway through the fourth. The Heat went scoreless in the first 4:36 of overtime.
“I feel like if we don’t turn the ball over  times, we’ll be fine,” Wade said.
I’m sticking with the Heat in Game 3 — those turnover problems will be lessened at home. Lowry is clearly battling injury for Toronto.