The Toronto Raptors (48-32) basically eliminated the Miami Heat (35-45) from the playoff picture with their a 107-101 victory. That win tied the franchise record they set last year, of 48 wins, against what was left of a Miami team that could just not keep up with the Raps. DeMar DeRozan until now, had never won in Miami in all his 10 tries and left the court for a bit after taking a hard fall in the third quarter, but he did return to finish off the game and later told press that he was fine. Not only did DeRozan return, he hit a tough driving layup with less than two minutes remaining in a very tight game for the second night in a row. He hit the free throw as well to give Toronto a 99-94 advantage with only 1:21 left to play. With seconds left to play, the lead down to two points, Lou Williams, who was easily the best Raptor all night, calmly sank a three-pointer, then made his way to the corner to block a Luol Deng three-point attempt to firm up the win.
With this win, the Raps clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They also tied a franchise record with 22 road wins and despite some recent ups and downs, they are very happy about these accomplishments.
Williams told media postgame, that the Raptors had set a goal of home court advantage and getting50 wins before the season’s end: “Yeah, I’m having a pretty good week, but this one especially, feels good. It’s my first time ever having home-court in my 10-year career, so I look forward to it … (the ACC) is going to be rocking.”
The head coach Dwane Casey also said, “We’ve got to appreciate having home court, these guys fought for it, they scratched for it. They earned it. I think you’ve got to honour that and appreciate that, not be satisfied but appreciate that for our organization.”
“We got some timely stops,” Williams said of the final minutes. “Our two captains did a great job. I looked up and Kyle had three or four big rebounds in a row where we got stops. DeMar made some big shots like the and-one we needed it. And I made that shot at the end. I think everybody did what they’re supposed to,” he added.
Williams finished the game with 29 points, DeRozan added 22 and the Raptors needed all of that offence because Kyle Lowry struggled again in his second game back after missing nine-of-10. They picked up the slack as Lowry only shot 3-for-14, including 0-for-8 from three. Tyler Hansbrough also played well and Terrence Ross turned in a solid 17 minutes from the bench.
The Raps were coming off a close, 101-99 win in Orlando the night before, and completed their sweep of Florida with cooling down the Heat. It was Toronto’s first road win over the Heat since Nov. 19, 2008 during the James era.
Next up is the Boston Celtics (37-42) on Tuesday night. They lost a very tight game on April 4th, left reeling in OT from Marcus Smart’s buzzer beater. And now it should be time to get some revenge. If they want to hit that 50 game win mark, then they’ll have to focus on neutralizing them early and quickly. As if Celtics win at least two of their final three games, they’re in the playoffs so they will be battling the Raptors hard. It should be a close game.
Our Pick: Raptors over Celtics, 107-102