Heat facing tough road test at Raptors


The Miami Heat continue their testing three-game road trip Tuesday night against the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors.

Both teams are coming off impressive victories on Sunday.

The Heat opened their trip with a 109-106 win over the Brooklyn Nets with Goran Dragic scoring 24 points.

The Raptors started a three-game homestand with a 130-110 rout of the Utah Jazz to go 9-0 at home and extend their overall win streak to seven. Pascal Siakam scored 35 points.

Trailing by seven with 1:45 to play, the Heat scored the final 10 points of the game in Brooklyn as they went 8 of 9 from the free-throw line during this stretch.

The Nets missed their final five shots of the game against strong defense from Heat center Bam Adebayo and forward Jimmy Butler.

“I like this win, because, one, it’s on the road,” said Butler, who had 20 points. “But I think we finally showed ourselves what we’re capable of when we guard. When we don’t make shots the way that we normally make shots, there’s still a way to win, and we have to find that way to win. Tonight was a prime example of it.”

Miami committed a season-low nine turnovers.

“We’ve been talking about it for 48 hours that we need to take a stand, particularly on the road,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Find a game where we have to grind, even if it’s ugly, to show the mental toughness.”

Meanwhile, the Raptors used a 23-2 first-quarter run to open a 77-37 halftime lead on Sunday against the Jazz. The 40-point margin was the highest at the intermission in franchise history. It was the largest halftime deficit in Jazz franchise history and tied for the eighth-largest halftime lead in NBA history.

Serge Ibaka scored 13 points for Toronto on Sunday after missing 10 games with a sprained ankle.

“When he is cooking and going, he becomes a great presence on defense and his offense has been really solid this year,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

Kyle Lowry is expected to return soon from a fractured thumb. He has missed 11 games, in which the Raptors are 9-2.

“It’s just a matter of plugging guys in that haven’t played and those guys have been playing unbelievable,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said after scoring 21 points with 11 assists Sunday. “Not really surprised, more so just pleased with how we’ve been playing and something we need to continue to do and we are about a quarter of the way in, so we’ve got to continue to keep building and getting better. Once everybody gets back, that will probably be our real challenge, to start back over and try to find chemistry and minutes.”

The Jazz cut the lead in half with a 49-point third quarter.

“We just weren’t coming up with any stops — but I don’t really want to talk about that third quarter, if that’s all right,” Nurse said. “I am happy that we get a 20-point win against a quality team like that. You take that every day of the week.”

The Raptors won all four games between the teams last season. Miami took the season series 2-1 in 2017-18. The Heat are 6-5 this season on the road.

–Field Level Media