After surviving Game 7 in the opening round vs. the Indiana Pacers, the Toronto Raptors were ready to host the Miami Heat in a what was expected to be the beginning of another long battle against an even more playoff experienced and championship pedigree team. Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Amare Stoudemire, and Udonis Haslem present the kind of depth and veteran leadership that most NBA teams only dream of having.
Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey made a modification to his starting lineup, starting rookie Norman Powell at small forward, and moving DeMarre Carroll to power forward. This was the Raptors’ coaching staff’s attempt to try and limit Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson offensively, and force them into difficult shots with the defensive intensity that both Powell and Carroll bring everytime they’re on the floor.
Early on, Toronto held Miami to just six points, and led 12-6 with only 5:17 remaining in the first quarter, but the Heat rose to the occasion and managed to get level by the end of the quarter, 18-18, heading into the second. The second quarter was a very similar back and forth tempo, as the Raptors took a slim two point lead into halftime, 43-41. The tide turned in the third quarter as the Heat started to heat up, outscoring the Raptors 27-20 and held five point advantage, 68-63, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Raptors rallied, and went on a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter to keep themselves in the game. The Heat did their best to stop the Raptors’ run scoring some timely baskets to try and give themselves a cushion to thwart a Raptors comeback. The game was looking grim from the Raptors’ perspective late in the fourth quarter, time was not on their side, but they got the ball back after a bad pass by Miami’s Josh Richardson. The Raptors called a 20 second time out, down six points to the Heat, 87-81, with just 8.7 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Straight out of the timeout Terrence Ross hit a three to cut the lead to the same margin as his made shot. After another costly Miami turnover, and some missed free throws, the score was 90-87 for Miami with just 3.3 seconds remaining. Then, this occurred:
Kyle Lowry’s miracle shot sent the game into overtime, as the fans inside the Air Canada Centre, and the fans outside in Maple Leaf Square (aka Jurassic Park) erupted in jubilation. Lowry certainly has had his shooting woes, but he was able to make that one with the game on the line!
In overtime the Raptors were not able to capitalize on the momentum gained from the electric crowd and the confidence from making such a huge shot to send the game to an extra frame. The Heat outscored the Raptors 12-6 in overtime, and the Heat scored the first eight points of overtime taking a 98-90 lead with 1:21 to go. The Raptors kept battling and Lowry found Valanciunas for a cut to the basket and a dunk, cutting Miami’s lead to just three points, 99-96 with 10.6 seconds remaining. The Heat’s Luol Deng committed his fifth turnover of the game by making a bad pass, resulting in the Raptors getting the ball back with 10 seconds remaining in overtime to try and cut the lead to one, or even tie it, as they try to win the game or force it to a second overtime.
That is as close as the Raptors got though, as DeMar DeRozan was stripped of the basketball by Dwyane Wade after the inbounds, and Wade proceeded to score and get fouled in the process. Wade made his free throw attempt icing the game, giving the Heat a 102-96 overtime road win in Game One of this Eastern Conference Semi-Finals match up.
Kyle Lowry’s shooting struggles have continued for yet another game, scoring just seven points on 3-13 shooting from the field in this second rebound series opening game. Lowry acknowledges that he’s in a shooting slump, and that he’s trying to work himself out of it. The Raptors have been fortunate to get shining efforts from many other players from a scoring perspective throughout the playoffs, which has allowed Lowry to try and focus on other contributions he can make through his assists, defense, and encouraging and supporting his teammates as a leader.
Game Two in this series is set for Thursday night, 8pm ET. at the Air Canada Centre. All eyes will be on this game, as it’s the only NBA playoff game scheduled for Thursday May 5th.
Notable Heat stat lines
Joe Johnson – 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals
Luol Deng – Ten points, four assists, four steals
Hassan Whiteside – Nine points, 17 rebounds, two steals, one block
Dwyane Wade – 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks
Goran Dragic – 26 points, six rebounds, two assists
Josh Richardson – 11 points, two rebounds, one steal
Notable Raptors stat lines
DeMarre Carroll – Ten points, four rebounds, two steals, one block
Jonas Valanciunas – 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals, three blocks
DeMar DeRozan – 22 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal
Kyle Lowry – Seven points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals
Terrence Ross – 19 points, two rebounds, one steal, two blocks
Cory Joseph – Ten points, three rebounds, two assists
Postgame Media Session:
Erik Spoelstra and Dwyane Wade talk postgame following Miami’s Game 1 win over Toronto.
Postgame Locker Room Reactions: