PREVIEW: The Toronto Raptors have been trying to groom third-year guard DeMar DeRozan as a finisher, someone they can count on late in games. DeRozan might want to keep a close eye on LeBron James as the Miami Heat welcome the Raptors to town Wednesday night. James scored Miami’s final 17 points as the Heat stormed back to beat the New Jersey Nets 101-98 on Monday night. Toronto wasn’t as fortunate, dropping a one-sided decision to Atlanta.
Raptors Heat Betting
When: 7:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Rogers SportsNet, Sun Sports
THE RAPTORS (22-40): With several core players on the sidelines and a combination of benchwarmers and NBA Development League prospects in the fold, the Raptors’ focus has shifted from outcome to analysis. DeRozan’s evolution as a go-to scorer is part of the process, according to Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. DeRozan is in the top five in the NBA in free throws made and attempted in April, and is shooting a scorching 88.5 percent from the line so far this month.
THE HEAT (43-17): Miami has won three in a row to keep its slim hopes of securing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference alive. The Heat’s schedule is certainly a favorable one, with Wednesday’s game against Toronto and a pair of meetings with the lowly Washington Wizards on the docket. The game with the biggest impact will be Thursday’s meeting with the visiting Bulls, a contest that could ultimately decide which club secures home-court advantage through the opening three rounds of the playoffs.
1. The Heat have won seven straight meetings against Toronto, including a 113-101 triumph in their last encounter March 30.
2. Miami F Chris Bosh, who left Toronto in 2010 after spending his first seven seasons with the Raptors, averages 19.8 points in four games against his former club.
3. Raptors PG Jose Calderon (swollen right eye) is expected to be a game-time decision. Calderon has missed the last three games.
PREDICTION: Heat 104, Raptors 85. CLICK HERE for 500 Handicappers Package FOR 5$