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Raptors Clinch Home Court, Beat Heat 107-104

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The Raptors matched their franchise-best 48 wins AND clinched home court in the first round of the playoffs in beating the Heat 107-104.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This one was always going to be tougher than the standings suggested (although with these Raptors, any game is tougher than the standings suggest, but I digress). On the second game of their Florida back to back, the Raptors had to find a way to overcome a Heat squad desperate to sneak into the playoffs. With Kyle Lowry only playing in his second game back from injury, and Amir Johnson still missing, the minutes allocation was bound to be challening for an undermanned squad.

The Raptors were under the gun right from the opening tip, as Jonas Valanciunas picked up two fouls within a minute and a half (more on this later). On one hand, what the heck. On the other hand, more Large Professor Chuck Hayes minutes. Pros and cons, folks. The first half was pretty much a blitz between Greivis Vasquez, DeMar DeRozan, Lou Williams and Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic. Lou had 20 at half to lead the Raps to a tie game of 58-58, while Dragic had 12 for Miami. There was also this:

The teams remained close for the duration of the game, with the Heat leading 81-79 after three quarters. In the fourth, the Raptors guards managed to create separation from the Heat to close the game out. Vasquez hit a couple of huge 3s and danced the way he plays defence - wobbly and flailing.

DeRozan attacked the basket for an and-one against Luol Deng, and Lou Williams hit a massive 3 pointer to put the Raps ahead 102-97 with 31 seconds left to put the game to bed. So, home court for the first round and maybe the nail in the coffin for the Heat's playoff hopes. Doubly sweet.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • One of the reasons the Raptors were so guard-dependent tonight? JV. He fouled out in the 3rd quarter after playing nine minutes the entire game. Nine. Six fouls in nine minutes.
  • Kyle Lowry's still rounding into form, and it's better for the Raptors that he dusts off the cobwebs before the playoffs roll around. 3-14 from the field and 0-8 from 3 is ugly, but hopefully the rust is almost gone.
  • Patrick Patterson's shooting is unreliable at the moment. He missed badly on a couple of his wide open 3 point attempts. He did have a sweet dunk on Hassan Whiteside. I'm just glad he didn't get double legged right after.
  • We still might get 50 wins. Does anyone care about that still?
Your thoughts?