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Game two of the Rudy Gay era in Toronto occurs later this afternoon as Chris Bosh and the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat pay a visit to the ACC on Super Bowl Sunday.
How much better a Sunday could you possibly ask for?
You've got the Miami Heat battling the Toronto Raptors in the afternoon, then the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVIIl (Prediction: Ravens 24-20) later in the evening.
Life is good, my friends.
The Heat look to win their 10th straight game against Toronto, as they conclude a four-game road trip which saw them lose their most recent outing (102-89) to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Toronto, which is coming off arguably their most impressive performance of the season on Friday (98-73 blowout over the Los Angeles Clippers), look to improve to 18-30 on the year and inch ever so closer to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
They had dropped eight of ten prior to their win over the Clippers.
By the way, some guy named Chris Bosh is back in town today. You may have heard of him. Bosh is averaging 27.5 points in two prior trips to Toronto.
As always, here is your "TRIPLE W: WALDER'S WINNING WAYS" of the game.
1) Rudy Gay
After coming off the bench in his Raptors debut on Friday, Rudy Gay is expected to officially join the starting lineup later today against Miami.
No one can deny how impressive Gay looked on Friday. 20 points, three rebounds and two alley-oops from DeMar DeRozan had the crowd roaring with approval.
Say what you will about his heavy-duty contract and his early-season struggles with the Memphis Grizzlies, but Rudy now has a fresh start here in Toronto, and thus far, he's looked damn good.
One game is just one game, but if he can put together another strong performance today against an elite squad like Miami, the Rudy Gay bandwagon may start to exceed its maximum occupancy.
2) Dwyane Wade
I can go the safe route and say "hey, we need to stop LeBron James", but let's face it, that's a given for 28 other teams when they go toe-to-toe with the Heat.
Wade is the one who loves to feast on the Raptors more than anyone, as he's averaging 31.5 points in his last 11 games against Toronto.
Back on January 23rd, Dwayne dropped a game-high 35 points (13 for 19 shooting), including seven assists and five rebounds as Miami knocked off the Raptors in overtime 123-116.
It's easy to forget how dominant a player Wade can be, especially playing next to the greatest basketball talent on the planet in James. While LeBron will certainly have a lot of defensive pressure on him throughout the game, Toronto will need keep a close eye on Wade as well, as he is just as capable of taking the game over on his own.
3) Greater emphasis on rebounding the basketball
The Miami Heat are the worst rebounding team in the NBA at 39.1 a game, but you wouldn't have guessed that by watching them during their last meeting with Toronto.
The Raptors were outrebounded by 25 (53-28), including a 16-7 deficit on the offensive glass. In fact, three Heat players (James, Bosh, Udonis Haslem) grabbed double-digit boards, which was more than Toronto grabbed as a team (32-28).
With the game as close as it was, a few extra boards could have made a world of difference.
Toronto isn't exactly a powerhouse in that department to begin with (28th, 40.1), but in order to pull out the victory against Miami today, they can ill-afford to give up any advantage to the Heat, especially in an area of the game they struggle with so greatly.