3 In the Key - Toronto Raptors Game Day Preview vs. Heat

Wow.

Wow.

Who knows, they could come back next year with a huge chip on their shoulder and try for perfection again, but as of now I no longer have to live with the fact that my brother’s favorite football team is the best team ever.

They choked. They underestimated, and best of all, they lost.

But what’s the real story from Superbowl 42? Play as a team and never underestimate your opponent. This applies to the Raps more than ever as they head into Monday nights affair with the Miami Heat.

The Heat have been absolutely brutal this year. Plagued by injuries, poor play and lack of a team identity Pat Riley is currently the captain of a ship that is sinking at a torrid pace. This Heat team is simply brutal to watch right now. Their offence is stagnant, their defense is porous and they are, even before the All-Star break, simply playing out the season.

My oh my how things have changed in South Beach. It was a mere two years ago that the Heat were NBA Champions and now they are looking ahead to the NBA Draft and starting anew. Of course this should come as no surprise to anyone. When the Heat dealt for Shaq they knew they were giving up a big chunk of their future in Butler and Odom. Shaq delivered on his promise to bring a championship to Florida and now, this team is paying the price.

How big a price? Shaq is on the books for a couple more years and Miami is the worst team in the NBA. Yup, dead last with only 9 wins.

The Raps however can’t sit back on their laurels and think this will be an easy win. If they do they run the risk of pulling a "Patriots". The outcome of the game is far from decided until the buzzer sounds and the Raps will have to play a solid game to ensure a W.

So what are the three things to look out for?

1. Perimeter Defence - The pressure lies on the wing defenders to garner this W. If guys like Wade and Ricky Davis have an easy time getting to the rim you run the risk of them heating up and stealing a victory. As a consequence, forcing this Heat to be a jump shooting team is essential. The Heat offence only manages 92 points per game and the Raps need to focus on keeping them below their season average.

2. Feed CB4 - The Heat simply have no answer for CB4. None. With Shaq out with a hip injury the job just got that much easier for the Raps franchise player. Look to Bosh to set the tone early and get to the hoop. Not only is Shaq nursing an injury but Mourning is also sidelined which really opens up the paint. The Raps need to make a concerted effort to get the ball to Chris and give him the opportunity to beat this Heat team down early.

3. Break the Zone - I have no doubt that at some point Riley is going to be forced to play zone. With no answer for Bosh I would expect to see some zone D. Again the pressure will lie on the Raptors wings. They are two ways to beat a zone, shoot over it or attack it. I would like to see the later and allow the former to come naturally during the course of the game. If the Raps automatically settle for Plan A, with no Plan B you are giving the Heat a chance.

The Raps need to keep Wade on the outside....
The Raps need to keep Wade on the outside....

The Raps schedule is fairly light this week so they really need to come out and set the tone early. Nothing should be left in the tank and the Raps should walk away from this match-up with a W, but of course that’s why you play the game.

Before I sign off here just a couple more thoughts on the Giants win (I know it’s a Raptors blog). First, Bill Belichick is a sore loser. He didn’t even stay on the field for the last kneel down. All that winning you should take a loss like a man. Second, this might be one of my favorite quotes in a long time via Osi Umenyiora -

"18-1...trademark that."

Here’s to the Giants.

HOWLAND

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