MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat is a team still searching for its identity.
The Heat have exchanged wins and losses thus far on the young season, but may soon have a chance to begin putting together some winning streaks with a home-heavy portion of the schedule.
The Heat play their next seven games at home – their longest stretch of the season – and 20 of 29 at American Airlines Arena, beginning with Sunday’s meeting with Toronto.
After the Raptors leave town, the next eight opponents on Miami’s schedule missed the playoffs last season.
Miami split a two-game road trip with a 90-87 loss at Indiana on Friday, as Dwyane Wade capped a season-low nine-point effort with a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer.
At about the same time, Toronto was suffering its first defeat of the season at Orlando, dropping a 92-87 decision while shooting a season-low 34.9 percent from the field.
The Raptors took two of three meetings in 2014-15 but the Heat have claimed 10 of the last 11 at home.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, Sportsnet ONE (Toronto), FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (5-1): Although it later took the lead, Toronto did not do itself any favors by putting up a 15-point first quarter on Friday, continuing one of the few negative developments for Dwane Casey’s team.
“It’s our starts. We have to come out with force on the offensive end,” Casey told reporters after his team erased a nine-point halftime deficit but ran out of steam down the stretch.
The Raptors average a league-low 21.5 points in the opening 12 minutes, 19.7 over the last three games.
ABOUT THE HEAT (3-3): Coach Erik Spoelstra said prior to the Indiana game that swingman Gerald Green is “safe” and “healthy” as he battles an undisclosed illness, but the club continues to press on without a guy who was expected to provide a spark off the bench.
It did get Mario Chalmers back from an ankle issue on Friday but big man Amar’e Stoudemire missed his fourth game in a row due to a knee injury.
The physical woes have hampered a bench that entered Friday’s loss averaging 24 points, tied for 28th in the NBA.
- Wade averaged 24.7 points on 56.8 percent shooting against Toronto last season.
- Raptors SG DeMar DeRozan is averaging 23.7 points over a three-game stretch while making 31-of-35 free throws.
- Heat C Hassan Whiteside has four blocks in each of his last three games.
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