Raptors look to protect home court against Heat
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors have lost only four times this season at home, one of them to the Miami Heat, who will visit the Air Canada Centre Tuesday night.
The Heat defeated the Raptors 90-89 on Jan. 9 in the first meeting of the season between the teams with Wayne Ellington scoring on a layup for Miami in the final second of the game.
It was the third home loss of the season for the Raptors and ended a 12-game winning streak at the ACC, equaling a franchise best.
The Raptors have the best home record in the NBA at 23-4. The Heat are 16-14 on the road.
During their current five-game winning streak, the Raptors (39-16) have taken over first place in the Eastern Conference, leading the Boston Celtics by one-half of a game.
In defeating the Hornets 123-103 in Charlotte Sunday afternoon, Dwane Casey earned his 300th win as Raptors coach, the most in franchise history.
"This is a great accomplishment for him and he deserves to be in the record books in this organization," Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry said.
Raptors starting forward OG Anunoby is listed as questionable with a sprained right ankle. He was injured in the first half at Charlotte and did not return for the second half. Casey suggested that Anunoby might be given the game off Tuesday as a precaution.
The Heat (30-26), meanwhile, ended a five-game losing streak when they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 91-85 on Friday.
It marked the return of Dwyane Wade, who was obtained in a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers the day before. The guard scored three points in 22 minutes in the game at Miami.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Kelly Olynyk, who has missed the past two games with a strained left shoulder, is improving but will not play in the game in Toronto. The forward injured the shoulder in the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 5.
"We want to really treat him and make sure he's continuing to make the progress he's made the last few days," Spoelstra said.
With Olynyk out, the Heat could again at times go with Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo, who were effective against Milwaukee, to face Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka.
White and Adebayo were on the court together for 10 minutes and combined for 11 points against the Bucks. They combined for 27 points and 26 rebounds overall in the game.
"Those two guys are a force to be reckoned with and it's going to make a lot of our jobs easier to understand how they utilize them," Wade said after playing with them Friday. "So, I'm excited about that and looking to see how to help other guys understand how to utilize them, because they're going to open everything up for both of us."
"It was great, man," Whiteside said. "It was a couple of times we were just playing volleyball with each other on the rebounds. It's a lot different when he's out there. It's really athletic."
Toronto has won each of its five games during the winning streak by a margin of 15 or more points, for the first time in franchise history. No Raptors starter has played 30 minutes in any of the past four games.
Toronto's reserves have combined to score at least 50 points in each of the past five games (Feb. 2-11), averaging 56.0 points during this stretch. The Raptors' second unit scored 55 points Sunday at Charlotte.
"They are phenomenal," Lowry said Sunday after the second unit again played the entire fourth quarter. "We are going to need them, and we love to see them continue to grow. It makes me smile, it makes DeMar (DeRozan) smile, it makes all of us happy."
The second unit plays a style of play based on constant movement.
"It's nothing new under the sun," Casey said. "We call it Flow and the young guys started working on it this summer. Just really got into as far as moving the ball and their activity is just as important as anything else."
Updated February 12, 2018