On the one hand, we do not like Dwyane Wade much in Toronto. Or at least I don't. He radiates a certain clean cut boy scout quality -- personable, nice, etc. -- but make no mistake: he's a killer. And he's killed the Raptors (and many other teams for some time). But on the other hand, which is a weird one: Wade, Miami's first and only son, is not on the Heat. This is difficult to reconcile.
(But we will reconcile it when he rolls through town on one of the other team's we really do not like in Toronto, the Chicago Bulls. Hoo boy.)
So then, who are these Miami Heat? It seems like only yesterday they were crowing about not five, not six, not seven, championships. They managed to snag with Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Now, all three are gone and the team has been turned over to the likes of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, and the ascendant (and terrifying) Justise Winslow. The championship aspirations in the near-term are no longer there -- but there are worse situations to be, franchise-wise.
Likewise, the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan is in the midst of a one-man mission to disprove efficiency analytics, and on his way to more records if he can keep this 30-point scoring streak alive. Meanwhile, the rest of the team -- namely Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMarre Carroll, and Patrick Patterson -- are rounding into form.
And tonight, a special treat: We get to see a full game showdown between Whiteside and Jonas Valanciunas. We were robbed of that last year in the playoffs due to injuries. (Remember when these two teams met for an ugly albeit ultimately joyful seven game series?) But now, there's nothing stopping these two from duking it out.
Should be fun. Also, apropos of absolutely nothing:
Let's play some basketball. First, get up to speed with our preview here from Matt Teague. Second, get into the Comments and watch along with us. It's the ACC on a Friday night. Let's get it.