Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat
Records: Raptors (23-11), Heat (24-9)
Where to Watch
Date: Jan. 2, 2020
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SN1 (Canada), FSSUN or NBA TV (USA)
Location: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
On Thursday, the Raptors will take the court for the first time in 2020.
The Raptors and Heat have already played each other once this season. Led by Jimmy Butler, who recorded his first triple-double as a member of the Heat, Miami outlasted Toronto in overtime, winning by a final score of 121-110.
That game was Kyle Lowry's first since returning from injury. He struggled in the loss - 12 points on a dismal 2-for-18 shooting from the field - but he has since taken his game to another level. Since losing Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell and Marc Gasol to injury on Dec. 18, Lowry is averaging 25.1 points, 8.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, making a strong push for another All-Star appearance.
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The Raptors are 4-3 during this stretch, with wins coming against the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Raptors will need Lowry to be at his best to have a chance of beating the Heat, who have won seven of their last 10. They're coming off of a bizarre loss to the Wizards that snapped a five-game winning streak, but the Heat have recorded a number of signature wins lately against the Philadelphia 76ers (twice), Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers.
The Heat continue to receive notable contributions from a number of players. Butler is averaging a team-high 21.0 points over their last 10 games, but seven other players have scored in double figures including Tyler Herro, Derrick Jones Jr. and Goran Dragic.
Dragic and Herro came up big in the team's most recent win over Philadelphia, with Dragic scoring 19 points off the bench and Herro hitting a huge 3-pointer in regulation that helped force overtime.
TYLER HERRO!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Y9LzOen2V8- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 29, 2019
The Heat enter Thursday's game with a 1.5 game lead over the Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings.
- Marc Gasol (hamstring) - Out
- Dewan Hernandez (ankle) - Out
- Norman Powell (shoulder) - Out
- Pascal Siakam (groin) - Out
- Matt Thomas (finger) - Out
- Justise Winslow (back) - Out
- Lowry isn't the only player who has stepped up for the Raptors in the absence of Siakam, Powell and Gasol. Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer, pouring in 16.6 points per game on 56.3 percent shooting to go along with a team-high 9.4 rebounds.
- Toronto's second-leading scorer during this stretch? Fred VanVleet with 18.0 points per game, although he's shooting only 35.5 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from 3.
- The Heat currently rank eighth in offensive efficiency and 12th in defensive efficiency.
- The Raptors, on the other hand, rank 13th in offence and second in defence.
- Siakam and Butler both received a fifth place vote in our first MVP ladder of the season.
- After tonight, the Raptors and Heat will only play each other one more time this regular season (April 14).
Last Time They Played
Date: Dec. 3, 2019
Score: Heat 121, Raptors 110 (OT)
Raptors: Norman Powell - 23 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal
Heat: Jimmy Butler - 22 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 1 steal