Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat
Records: Raptors (25-10); Heat (16-16)
Where to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 26
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
On Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors take on the Miami Heat for the second time this season.
MORE: 5 takeaways from the first meeting
The Heat were struggling heading into the first matchup, but they've looked like a different team over the last couple of weeks. Following their loss to the Orlando Magic on Dec. 4, the Heat have won seven of their last nine games, including five in a row.
Their most recent victory came in a rematch with the Magic, whom the Raptors play later this week.
It's taken a team effort to get the Heat back on track. Josh Richardson continues to lead the way in scoring, but Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, Dwyane Wade, Kelly Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside have each been scoring 11-plus points per game during their recent stretch.
It was Johnson, for example, who stole the show in their win over the Magic leading up to Christmas Day. He scored a season-high 25 points, 20 of which came in the third quarter.
The Heat have also been getting it done defensively. In holding opponents to 101.6 points per 100 possessions, they have the fourth-best defensive rating in the league over their last nine games. The only teams ahead of them? The San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers.
Largely out of desperation due to injuries, the Heat have been mixing it up on that end of the court by playing a 2-3 zone at times. They went to it against the Houston Rockets last week and based on how much success they've had with it, we could see it again when they play the Raptors.
MORE: The Heat are moving up our power rankings
Whereas Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are expected to play for Toronto on Wednesday, Serge Ibaka is probable and Kyle Lowry is doubtful.
Ibaka is having one of the best seasons of his career and his ability to space the floor has them scoring at a rate of 116.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the court compared to 104.7 with him on the bench.
Without him and Jonas Valanciunas, who dislocated his thumb against the Golden State Warriors and is expected to be out until sometime in January, the Raptors have been playing Greg Monroe and Pascal Siakam at centre.
If Ibaka isn't able to play, Monroe and Siakam will both have their hands keeping Whiteside off the glass, as he's averaging 4.1 offensive rebounds per game so far this season.
Lowry returned against the 76ers on Dec. 22 after missing four straight games. He scored 20 points and dished out five assists in his first action in 10 days.
Last Time They Played
Date: Nov. 25
Score: Raptors 125, Heat 115
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 29 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks
Heat: Dwyane Wade - 35 points, six assists, five rebounds, one block