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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat went small, and came up big.
With that, another Game 7 awaits.
Goran Dragic scored a postseason career-high 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 22 and the Heat rode their small lineup to a 103-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, tying their Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-3.
Joe Johnson had 13 points, Justise Winslow added 12, and Josh McRoberts scored 10 for the Heat.
Kyle Lowry scored 36 points for Toronto, on 12-for-27 shooting. DeMar DeRozan added 23 for the Raptors, but their teammates combined to shoot 14 of 34 from the floor and manage 32 points.
Game 7 is Sunday in Toronto. The winner will head to Cleveland for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night. Both the Heat and the Raptors won a Game 7 in the first round.
Dragic shot 12 of 21, Wade blocked a game-high three shots and the Heat — despite some serious size deficiencies with injured starting center Hassan Whiteside still out — only lost the rebounding battle 43-41.
Neither team divulged its starting lineup until warmups were under way. The Heat had reason for subterfuge, after choosing a super-small starting five of Dragic, Wade, Johnson, Luol Deng and Winslow.
The results? Splendid for Miami.
The Heat used eight players — the tallest being McRoberts, at 6-foot-10. The average height of the others was just under 6-6.
Deng jumped center and Winslow got his first playoff start, three games after sitting out Game 3 entirely. The Heat like using the term “positionless basketball” and Winslow epitomized it early — in a 60-second span, the rookie guarded Raptors center Bismack Biyombo, brought the ball up like a point guard and made a corner 3.
Both teams sputtered early, shooting a combined 37 percent in the opening quarter. The Heat got going in the second, Dragic shooting 6 for 7 to spark a 14-point quarter and sending Miami into the locker room with a 53-44 edge.
The lead got to 13 in the third, Dragic again coming up big with a three-point play followed by a stepback jumper. And when Toronto got within six early in the fourth, Dragic and Wade scored the next six points to keep Miami in control.
Raptors: Toronto is now 2-6 in series closeout opportunities, 1-5 when they come on the road. … Toronto is one of four active teams yet to make its first appearance in the conference finals, joining Charlotte, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers. … The Raptors haven’t lost back-to-back games since March 23-25.
Heat: Miami is 6-0 in its last six elimination games, the NBA’s longest current streak. … Dragic’s previous postseason career high was 26. … Wade tumbled into courtside seats in the third quarter — landing atop University of Miami deputy athletic director Jennifer Strawley. She was fine, and Wade then playfully knocked a hat off the head of Orlando guard Victor Oladipo, sitting two seats away.
Wade passed Hakeem Olajuwon for No. 12 on the NBA’s career playoff scoring list. Next up is No. 11 John Havlicek — who Wade passed for 20th place by playing in his 102nd playoff victory.
GAME 7 HISTORIES
Miami is 6-3 all-time in Game 7s, having won four straight ultimate games (including one in the first round this season). Miami’s lone road Game 7 was in the first round of 2009, a loss at Atlanta.
Toronto is 1-2 in Game 7s, 1-1 at home, that win coming over Indiana in this season’s opening round. The Raptors lost at home in 2014 to Brooklyn — a team that had current Heat forward Johnson.
Not that either team will be thinking about it, but there’s some cash at stake for the winner of Game 7.
The NBA playoff pool this season is $15 million, and teams get various pieces of that pie depending on where they finish in the regular season and how deep they go in the playoffs. The Raptors are already assured to split $794,496; the Heat have so far assured themselves a pot of $654,187.50.
And Sunday’s winner will add $440,173 to their respective total, the reward for reaching the conference finals.
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