Heat vs. Raptors Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Toronto Raptors host the Miami Heat on Sunday in the fourth and final meeting between these teams this season.
The Raptors have won two of the three previous meetings between these franchises. This will also be a special game as it marks the first time Kyle Lowry returns to Toronto since joining Miami last summer.
The Heat have had an up-and-down last few weeks. Two weeks ago, the Heat had a commanding grip one the one seed in the Eastern Conference, but they then proceeded to lose four consecutive games as they played horrific defense — something we haven’t seen from them for long stretches.
This brought other teams like the Bucks, 76ers and Celtics back into play for the top seed. However, the Heat have bounced back this week with three wins in a row, including two statement victories over the Celtics and Bulls in their last two games.
With the Nets more likely to be the eighth to 10th seed by the day, the question remains whether the Heat should even want the top seed, but I’d be very surprised to see they try to duck them and not go for the No. 1 seed.
However, with this game being on the second leg of a back-to-back set with a veteran-heavy roster, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Miami rest some of its more experienced players like Jimmy Butler, Lowry or PJ Tucker.
The Heat only played one player more than 30 minutes in their 18-point win over the Bulls on Saturday. That was Jimmy Butler, who played 35 minutes, so this is worth keeping in mind if you want to bet on them.
The Raptors have been playing some of the best basketball as they enter this contest on a five-game winning streak and continue to climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Toronto is now in fifth after the Heat’s win over the Bulls pushed Chicago into sixth place.
The Raptors don’t have great depth, but they have a ton of smart and athletic wings with ridiculous wingspans playing alongside Fred VanVleet, who is having a career year. They have continued to improve throughout the regular season, especially on defense.
Up until Jan. 1, the Raptors ranked just 22nd in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency (111.3, excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass). Since the new year, they have flipped a switch as they have gotten healthier, and they rank fifth in the NBA in Defensive Rating (109.7) and lead the NBA in Defensive Rating (104.8) over the last two weeks.
The questions for the Raptors come offensively, where they rank just 16th in Offensive Efficiency (112.7). The Raptors are especially poor in the halfcourt, where they rank 27th with a 91.4 Offensive Rating (per Cleaning The Glass).
The Raptors, who have taken the last two meetings, present a tough matchup for the Heat. Miami would love to try and hunt mismatches with Butler, like it did against the Bulls, but this is nearly impossible against the long, versatile Toronto defense.
The Raptors also have the length and athleticism to make life tough for Tyler Herro, which means the Heat’s top two leading scorers will both need to make tougher shots than normal to pull the slight upset.
While Lowry didn’t play in any of the Heat’s three previous games against the Raptors, he’s expected to play and this is a big deal because having him and Gabe Nnamdi Vincent available (the only two point guards on the Miami roster) should help limit turnovers and force the Raptors to beat them in the halfcourt.
In the Heat’s two losses to the Raptors in late January and early February, they averaged 19.5 turnovers, compared to 12 turnovers when they beat the Raptors on Jan. 17. If the Heat play their best players and limit turnovers, they should cover, but I’m hesitant to play them in this spot on the second leg of a back-to-back set, especially until I know for sure that no one will be resting.
Instead, take the total to stay under 213.5 points as the Heat should limit their turnovers and both defenses will have the upper hand in this matchup as long as both Lowry and Vincent play. The total has stayed under this number in two out of the three times these teams have played ending regulation and there should be fewer transition opportunities for Toronto in this showdown.
Pick: Under 213.5 (Bet down to 210.5)