3 in the Key - Raptors' Game-Day Preview vs. Heat

Here...we...go...


The Raps comfortably won against the Clippers on Sunday and welcome Miami and their big 3 to the Air Canada Center for their last game before the All Star Break. The HQ's Sasha Kalra previews the matchup...

The Raptors have lost 16 of their last 18 games and are going through a midseason slump. To make matters worse they have just recently emerged from a taxing injury crisis and are still without Linas Kleiza and Reggie Evans going forward.

The Miami Heat have recovered from their slow start to the season and are starting to look like legitimate contenders. They are battling with Boston for the number 1 seed inthe Eastern Conference, and their 3 best players were recently selected as All Stars.

I could further analyze the fortunes of both teams but it would just bore you. You probably wouldn't care about that. Your mind is focused on only one thing right now and it amazes me that I have gone this long without mentioning the 6'11 elephant in the room.

CB4, Fake Tough Guy, The Rupaul of Big Men, Blane Harrington, Quitter, Franchise Player, Leader, Captain.
These are some of the names that Chris Bosh has gone by over the years and tonight marks his first game in Toronto as a member of another basketball club.

We all know what happened in the summer of 2010 and it would be futile for me to recount every development. The method through which he left the franchise angered its fan base and the welcome he is bound to receive tonight should reflect their discontent.

The "too boo or not too boo" debate has been going back and forth on many Raptor-related websites over the past few days. I will be attending the game and look forward to giving Bosh a standing ovation when he is announced but that is just my personal view on the debate. At the end of the day anyone that pays for a ticket and attends a game has the right to do what they want so long as it adheres to the arena's code of conduct.

With the entire city's focus turned on Bosh it would be wise not to ignore his running mates. Lebron James has turned himself into a modern-day basketball villain, but is now starting to get serious consideration as an MVP candidate. Dwyane Wade has adapted his game to suit his teammates' style of play, and exploded for 41 points last night.  And how can we forget about Mike Miller...

...the same Mike Miller that woke up from his season-long slumber to torch the Raptors last time these teams faced each other.

The Raps defeated the Clippers in front of a packed house on Sunday as fans filled up the ACC looking to watch the Blake Griffin Show. With the Heat in town you can expect another sold out game tonight. Without further ado, here are the 3 keys:

1 ) Play to the Crowd.  I have already mentioned the sold out crowd that is expected and the atmosphere will be electric inside the building. With the fans extra pumped up it would be wise for the Dinos to keep the crowd involved in the game. This could mean running hard on the break, giving hard fouls or diving for loose balls, really anything that would generate noise and create an intimidating atmosphere. The Heat are coming into this game on the heels of a hard-fought win in Indiana and tired legs should be taken advantage of.

2 ) Ed Davis.  With Amir Johnson's chances of being passed fit for this one still in doubt Ed Davis might be asked to step into the starting lineup again. He did a great job on Sunday matching up against Blake Griffin and got the better of the young All Star at crucial junctures in the 4th quarter. Tonight Davis will arguably be playing in the biggest game of his young career as he will be asked to put the clamps on Chris Bosh. If he can make some plays early it could give him the confidence to have another great game, and hopefully derail any thoughts Bosh has of dropping 40 and 20 on the Dinos.

3 ) Teamwork.  The Heat are much more talented than the Raps and if fans expect to pull off a surprise win than players need to cooperate and work together on both sides of the ball. This means looking for the best possible shot on offense. Bargnani and DeRozan are the team's top 2 options and they should be involved early on, but shots shouldn't be forced and it's imperative this team plays to its strengths, like getting out on the break. On D the team will have to be focused and ready to defend as a team rather than a set of individuals. The Raptors don't have a player who can stay with LeBron or Wade, so it's going to take a major team effort tonight, and the club needs to band together, even if it gets down early.

If not...we could be witnessing a similar situation to what transpired in Cleveland, in LeBron's first game back in Ohio.

Let's hope not...

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