It’s officially now or never for Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. They’ve got just three games left and they probably need to win all three of those games to reach the postseason. Toronto are in the battle for seeding, but the Raptors might be a little more focused on pulling their roster together and getting healthy ahead of what they hope will be a long postseason run.
Amir Johnson and Terence Ross are both expected to miss out on this contest for Toronto, probably in this case as much as a precaution late in the season as anything else.
They’ve won five of their last seven, but they’ve lost their two recent games against teams chasing playoff spots in the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. Can they out-compete a desperate team on Saturday night?
DeMar DeRozan has been playing high quality basketball for several months now, but he would have been very pleased to welcome his back-court partner Kyle Lowry against Orlando on Friday night. The point guard did reasonably well playing 33 minutes, scoring 10 points and picking up seven assists. Lowry now has just a few games left to get back to game fitness and competitiveness before the playoffs start.
The Heat have three games to save their season. They suffered a tough home loss to the Bulls on Thursday night. They have now lost five of their last six and eight of their last 10. Somehow, they’ve managed to stay in the conversation, but they are now two games back and essentially have to win their last three games to stand any chance of making it into the postseason. On the bright side, if they get past Toronto, they face Orlando and Philadelphia in their last two games, which could be an opportunity.
All of the Heat’s previous doubtful players have been declared fit. Wade, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside are reportedly ready for the last three games, or at least they refuse not to play while the playoffs are still on the line.
Wade has thrown everything into this playoff run and his season as a whole, but health issues continue to be a problem for a 33-year old who is being asked to do too much for this basketball team. He could not break through against the Bulls on Thursday finishing with just nine points.
Whiteside is averaging 15.3 points and 11.0 rebounds in his last four games and he’ll be the key player for Miami in this game especially if Toronto are missing a couple of pieces on their front court.
Betting Preview: Miami (-3) vs. Toronto
The Raptors still have plenty to play for and they got the proverbial “monkey” off of their backs against the Heat earlier this season with a victory at Air Canada Centre, but there’s too much at stake here for Miami. We’ll bet that Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra find a way to keep this team’s playoff hopes alive for one more season.
The Pick: Miami (-3) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 43-33
basketball betting • Dwyane Wade • Kyle Lowry • Miami Heat • NBA • toronto raptors