The NBA East’s lean years were considered as such because after the top two teams, the rest of the conference was nothing special. Every year it boiled down to whichever team LeBron James was on, and one potential challenger. For a few seasons, one of those two squads was the Miami Heat. We had to care about what they were doing because they had LeBron and were glory bound.
Now, though? Not so much. In fact, the roles in the East have been very much reversed: the Raptors are the team of note, the team due for some sort of glory (hopefully). And the Heat, well, they are just kind of there.
To be fair, the Heat have some compelling players. Goran Dragic (out tonight) is still a crafty and dangerous point guard. Josh Richardson remains as perhaps one of the better unremarked upon players in the league. Hassan Whiteside is very big. There are components here — coupled with sharp coach Erik Spoelstra — that make this version of the Miami Heat noteworthy. Except the team is currently just 7-11, good for tenth in the conference. They have a solid squad, a relatively high floor, but no one player that moves them beyond there current station as, at best, first round playoff fodder. (Not even the presence of aging Dwyane Wade can change that for them.)
The Raptors meanwhile are all about being compelling. They have an enigmatic superstar who is locked in as one of the best players in the league (hello Kawhi Leonard), they have some spunky personality (thanks Kyle Lowry!), they have a deep roster that runs all the way down through a dozen players (with everyone but Norman Powell now healthy). They have lofty dreams and aspirations. In short: they should beat the Heat handily.
Here’s our Raptors-Heat preview from this morning, care of our guy Ben Scott. Below are your updated game details. Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 6:00pm EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
Miami – Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
Toronto – Norman Powell (shoulder - out)
Miami – Goran Dragic (knee - out), Tyler Johnson (hamstring - out), Dion Waiters (ankle - out)