This past summer, Manu Ginobili announced his retirement from the NBA. His fearlessness alongside his slashing, slithering, play-style gave fans around the world the chance to watch the NBA at its most exciting. With his retirement, the NBA lost a certain type of fearless competitor. Known for his flashy style and giving up his body to game, there were few like him. In the NBA today however, only one name you can mention when you think about Euro-steps, splitting doubles, and blocking bigs above the rim — the Flash himself, Dwyane Wade.
When Wade announced that it would be his final season in mid-September, the NBA brotherhood — as well as fans all around the world — showed their appreciation. Wade was drafted in the famed ’03 draft class alongside LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. At 37 years old, he still has much to offer but decided to end his career on his own terms. That means retiring while he still has some gas left in the tank.
For a future Hall of Famer, Wade doesn’t have much history against Toronto. He was the best player for the Heat during the 2016 Conference Semi-Finals that went seven games. This season he exploded for 35 points off the bench and setting a Miami Heat record for most points as a reserve in a November game against Toronto. His resume speaks for himself — three rings, one Finals MVP, 8-time All-NBA, 3-time All-Defensive Team – but he’s never been seen as an out-and-out “Raptor killer” much like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (and a host of other random players). Wade will ultimately go down as a top three shooting guard of all time.
Depending on the outcome of the Heat’s final three games, this could potentially be the last time Wade plays in Toronto. His 15 seasons of iconic moments outside of Toronto has given basketball fans all-around something to cheer for and appreciate. As a man initially known amongst the Raptor faithful as the pick after Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade has played his way into global superstardom, gaining fans all around the world. And that means north of the border too.
This afternoon, whether it be the last time or not, Wade will enter the ScotiaBank Arena to play for a Heat win. Here are the details for this afternoon’s game.
Where to Watch:
TSN4, 12:00 PM EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Miami – Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo
Toronto – Patrick McCaw (thumb – OUT)
Miami – Josh Richardson (groin – day-to-day)
Miami are currently on a 3-game losing skid, with back-to-back losses to the Boston Celtics and a close loss to Minnesota. However, they still hold their own destiny with their final three games against Toronto today, at home against Philadelphia on Tuesday, and finally at Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Due to the tiebreakers, Miami will leapfrog both Detroit and Brooklyn if they all finish with the same records. What does this mean for Toronto? They’ll still have no idea who they play until the last day of the season. The same could be said for Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The race for play-offs is coming to photo finish.
Nick Nurse seems to finally be done experimenting. The playoffs start just under a week from now and with nearly everyone healthy again, who plays and who doesn’t? Historically we see rotations shorten in the postseason with the starters seeing an uptick in minutes. In case you missed it, HQ’s Daniel Hackett broke down what the play-off rotations could look like next week.
One thing is certain however, Kawhi will finally be unleashed. If he can return to 2016-17 postseason form, watch out.
Home sweet Home
Toronto has been one the top teams at home in the last five seasons. They’ve won 27, 32, 28, 34, and, with a win today, 32 games at home in each season. While the Raptors won’t be catching Milwaukee in the win/loss column, home court could be vital if Toronto were to reach the Finals.
Golden State is currently first in the Western Conference, but they’re sitting on only 55 wins, two games up against Denver — with three left to play. If Toronto should meet Golden State in the Finals, as of right they would hold the home court advantage. If the Raptors home record over the past four seasons is any indication, a potential Finals match-up could give Toronto a shot at giving the reigning champs a significant scare.