TORONTO, Ontario (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Miami Heat took the second-seeded Toronto Raptors to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring in a series that featured three overtime games.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Police Investigating Armed Home Invasion In West Miami-Dade
The Raptors, who won Game 7 116-89, will host the rematch when the Heat visit on Friday.
Toronto looks very much like the same team that took out Miami last spring and battled Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals, though DeMar DeRozan appears to have taken another step forward from his All-Star form of last season.
DeRozan is averaging 36.3 points on 55.4 percent shooting while becoming the first player to score at least 30 points in four straight games for the Raptors since Mike James in 2005.
The Heat are a different team with Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng gone from last spring, and the focus is shifting to the likes of Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson.
Dragic is leading Miami in scoring (20 points) and assists (seven) while Whiteside is at 19.8 points, 13.8 rebounds and three blocks through the first four games.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), Sportsnet One (Toronto)READ MORE: Kendall Neighborhood Fights Back Against Planned Development On Norman Brothers Produce Property
ABOUT THE HEAT (2-2): Tyler Johnson was injured and then buried behind Joe Johnson and Wade in the playoffs last season but is getting a chance as the sixth man this season and scored in double figures in each of the first four games, including 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 32 minutes on Tuesday as Miami fought for a 108-96 overtime victory over Sacramento. “Tyler really stepped up and made some big shots and made a couple big plays where it was something out of nothing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “A lot of times that’s what you need going down the stretch, the defense steps up and you just have to make plays. He found a couple open gaps and stepped up into a big three to really help us down the stretch.” Dragic added 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win – his second straight 25-point effort.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (3-1): DeRozan rolled his ankle on Wednesday but went back to the locker room just long enough to get it re-taped and returned to finish off his second 40-point performance in a 113-103 win over Washington. “He’s playing on another level right now, man,” point guard Kyle Lowry told reporters of DeRozan. “He’s making my life a lot easier, making everyone on our team’s lives a lot easier.” Lowry got off to a slow start shooting the ball at 8-of-29 from the floor in the first two games but recovered to go 17-of-33 in the last two contests.
1. Heat G Dion Waiters had his first 20-point outing since joining the team with 20 against the Kings.
2. Raptors SF Terrence Ross scored 15 points on 6-of 8 shooting on Wednesday after totaling 11 points on 4-of-11 in the first three contests.
3. Toronto took three of the four regular-season meetings last year, including both at home.MORE NEWS: Rep. Matt Gaetz Associate Joel Greenberg Pleads Guilty To Sex Trafficking Charges
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