The Miami Heat are in Toronto tonight for a game against the Toronto Raptors. One of these teams is doing very well at the moment, the other is not. I'll point you to the current league standings and ongoing win streaks to decide which is which. Take your time.
There's a lot of pressure put on the Raptors whenever they get national television exposure. I don't have the record on Toronto in nationally televised games (ESPN or otherwise), but I'm fairly confident they've lost far more of them than they've won. Maybe you too have memories of the Raptors playing in weekend afternoon games against the Knicks (and losing) or finally getting a prime time game, against the Mavericks of all teams, only to have their losing streak at the time reach 13 games. It's not the best feeling when your team finally makes it onto a bigger stage, only to trip on the curtain.
The hope with this Raptors squad, after a couple of years worth of disappointment and grit seasoning, is that they are now strong enough to overcome those types of nerves. That they'll take the court against the been-there-done-that likes of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and dominate. That Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan won't suddenly strain under the bright lights but instead put on a show. That people, that broader audience Raptors fans hotly accuse of ignoring their team, will see this team as one deserving of attention.
That's the hope, anyway. Let's see what happens.
It should be mentioned that Wade's status right now is questionable, and all of the following players will not play tonight for the Heat: Luol Deng, Hassan Whiteside, Gerald Green, Josh McRoberts, Goran Dragic and Beno Udrih. So, uh, this should be a hell of a TV extravaganza.
Pre-game reading: Here's Michael Hoad with a preview of the game and some things to watch. Now, on to the comments.