Archive for the ‘Miami Heat’ Category

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Aaron Gray
Miami: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani is still out.

Miami: No injuries reported.

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m only watching this game until it gets out of hand and then I’m getting the oil changed in my car before I pick up some beer for tonight. The Heat are 10-2 at home this season, although one of those losses was to the Bucks so it’s not inconceivable for them to lose to an inferior squad in Miami. Of course, Wade didn’t play in that game and he’s active today so… yeah, we’re screwed.

Matt Devlin confirmed that the Raptors will send out the same lineup that they used in their win over the Wizards on Friday, which I like because I want Jerryd Bayless to get as much playing time this season as possible so that we can figure out what to do with him. I mean, no disrespect to Jose Calderon, but I think everyone has him figured out by this point. Bayless is a bit of an enigma, plus he seems to perform better when he starts so let’s just keep rolling him out there.

As always when these two teams meet, the matchups to watch for are Chris Bosh vs. Amir Johnson and Ed Davis. In his two previous games against his former squad, Bosh averaged 18.5 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Note: No recap for this game since Joseph and I have, well… we have better things to do today. I’ll apologize tomorrow if the Raptors improbably win this game.

Since Super Bowl Sunday is like America’s Second Christmas, here’s a classic monologue about the U.S. of A. by Bruce McCulloch.

Sixty losses. Six-zero.

Let that stew for a few seconds.

Now let’s get to recapping the last game of the 2010-2011 season.

There was a nice buzz in the building leading up to the final game of the season, even with knowledge that the “big three” of LeBron, Wade and Bosh would not play. That buzz was killed early, as the first quarter of an already late start (8 p.m.) seemed to go on forever.

The refs were calling anything and everything to bring the pace of play to a screeching halt, and when the game finally did get moving, Eddie House channeled his inner LeBron by pouring in 18 first quarter points and leading the Heat to a nine-point lead after one quarter.

The second quarter was the Raptors’ best of the night, as they found a way to stop Eddie House, the rest of the Heat players stopped draining their prayers, and the Raptors were able to get off and running after coming up with stops and turnovers. It was quite the momentum shift of a quarter, and the Raptors actually carried a one-point lead into the half.

Forget the game for a moment. The highlight of the third quarter was when the Toronto faithful broke out into a “we want Bosh” chant and LeBron James teased the hell out of the fans. LeBron sprung up out of his chair, took a few running steps towards the centre, indicating he was going in, then waited for fans to get excited before returning to his seat with a sly grin on his face.

LeBron returned to his seat to a round of boos after his silly antics. I won’t lie; I thought it was a pretty funny moment and a light-hearted one at that. But this will only add to the LeBron hate out there, and rightfully so. I don’t care how funny you’re trying to be, you don’t willfully mock the paying fans, who, by the way, are paying nearly 40 per cent more for a game that features you and your best friends.

Back to the game.

The Heat regained their lead in the third, but a one-point game heading into the fourth looked to be just what the doctor ordered to send the 20 108 fans in attendance into the off-season with an exciting finish.

So much for that.

What followed was disgraceful and thoroughly disappointing.

The Raptors players, every last one of them, seemed to have called it quits after that third quarter, as they simply failed to show up for the last 12 minutes of the season. I didn’t expect them to play with the intensity of a game seven, but I did expect them to play their hearts out, you know, given the fact that it was probably the last time this young group of players would be playing basketball for a while.

Instead, they mailed it in, scoring just 10 points in the fourth quarter and happily accepting loss no. 60, which officially makes them the third-worst Raptors team in franchise history, and the worst since the 1997-98 team went 16-66.

On the “bright” side, the Raptors did finish with the third-worst record in the league, which means they should be in line for a top-three draft pick, and will have a 15.6 per cent chance of actually winning the draft lottery.

There were a few positives in this dreary season, namely the development of DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis and the acquisitions of Jerryd Bayless and James Johnson. Amir Johnson also added to his overall game, and from a financial standpoint, the Raptors do have a lot of flexibility going forward.

In addition, one can hope that the disappointment of a 60-loss season helped management realize which players are and are not worth keeping around.

This might be the last recap for a while, with the uncertainty of a lockout looming, and I’d like to thank all who contributed to these recaps throughout the season, either by reading or commenting. But I’ll have you know that you will continue to find quality Raptors blogging here, throughout the off-season and leading up to the draft over the next few months.

Hopefully, you come along for that ride.

Until then, grab a drink and erase this season from your memory.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 42 Min, 21 Pts, 6-13 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 9-10 FT, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk 5 TO

Heat Player of the Game: Eddie House – 45 Min, 35 Pts (career high), 14-27 FG, 7-13 3Pt, 1 Ast, 2 TO

This is the end, my friends. It’s the last day of the NBA regular season and the Heat and Raptors are wrapping it up with a meaningless matchup at the Air Canada Centre. The Heat already have the second seed in the East locked up and it won’t matter if they lose tonight and the Lakers win to match their 57-win total because the Heat swept their season series. The Mavs could potentially match the Heat’s win total tonight and would have home court advantage in that case if the two teams met in the Finals, but I don’t know anyone who actually believes the Mavs have a realistic shot of making it to the finals.

I’ll be at this game as a guest of the magnanimous Raptorman so if you happen to see me, feel free to come say hello. I’ve got a cold, though, so you probably shouldn’t shake my hand.

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani, Reggie Evans, Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon, Sonny Weems, Martin Lewis, Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza are all out.

Miami: Udonis Haslem is out while Mike Miller is questionable — which almost certainly means he’s out.

Five questions

1. Which of the Raptors currently on the roster do you expect (or hope) to not be on the team next season?

2. Do you want Bryan Colangelo to address the Air Canada Centre crowd tonight?

3. If Colangelo does speak, will he receive louder boos than Chris Bosh?

4. Have you seen where redirects? LOL.

5. What would you like me to change about or add to these game threads next season?

Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Ed Davis, Zan Tabak
Miami: Mario Chalmers, James Jones, Juwan Howard, Joel Anthony, Maverick Carter

For our final pregame song of the season, I figured since we’re playing the Miami Heat I’d pull a track from the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack. Let’s go with “One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fixx. Don’t even try to act like this song doesn’t rock.

Getty Images

First of all, before we really get this post started, let’s straighten something out. No, the noise in the ACC was nowhere near as loud as it was for Vince Carter’s first return or any of his first five returns, for that matter. The arena got loud at times, some half-assed chants were started, but for the most part, this was small potatoes compared to VC hate.

Now to the game.

The Raptors used their usual first quarter recipe to make a game of it early. Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan carried the offence with hot shooting, and Amir Johnson supplied a spark with eight rebounds in the quarter. Chris Bosh was also hot in that first quarter, and it became evident early on that he was in for a big game.

The Raptors hung around throughout the first half, never trailing by more than eight. They weren’t shooting the ball particularly well (42 per cent in first half), and Miami was scorching (57 per cent), but through extra effort and good team ball, Toronto went into the half down just four.

The third quarter was the really the Raptors’ undoing on this night, as the Heat attacked them from the opening possession and began to assert themselves as the quarter wore on. Bosh stayed consistent, Dwyane Wade started getting hot, and LeBron was getting others involved. There was definitely some panic in the ACC, as the Heat opened up a 13-point lead and looked ready to blow the game wide open.

Credit the Raptors for digging down and climbing back into the game at the end of the third quarter. They found a way to cut the deficit to eight heading into the fourth, and to be honest, actually had their fair share of opportunities to make it even closer than that, but couldn’t capitalize.

That trend continued into the fourth quarter. Every time the Heat began to pull away again, Andrea Bargnani converted an and-one or nailed an ice-cold three to slowly chip away at Miami’s lead. And once again, the Raptors were getting chances to creep even closer, but found a way to blow those chances, never getting closer than four points, at 91-87.

If there was one area of the game that really held the Raptors back tonight (besides rebounding), it was point guard play. Yes, I’m aware Jose Calderon racked up 14 assists, but his overall game was below average. He took some ill-advised shots, which ruined many Raptors’ runs in the second half, and when he took shots he should have taken, he just missed them. From a shooting standpoint, it was typical Calderon: going cold in the biggest moments of the biggest games.

When the Raptors went to the bench to relieve Jose, Jerryd Bayless was even worse. I’m usually a fan of what Bayless brings to the table, even on an off night, but he simply didn’t have it tonight, and his play was hard to watch.

From the negatives of loss no. 41 to the positives, Bargnani, DeRozan, Johnson and Ed Davis were all deserving of some praise.

Bargnani only grabbed four rebounds, and was average on the defensive end, but without his lights out shooting, the Raptors would have been dead on arrival tonight. If there is one positive thing you can say about Bargnani, it’s that he usually hits big shots when you need him to, in big games. In that way, he’s the opposite of Calderon.

DeRozan finished with 24 points and aggressively attacked the basket throughout the game. He missed some close-range shots and layups, but the effort and fight were clearly there. Amir had a terrible shooting night, and like DeMar, got some unlucky bounces around the rim. But he still contributed 11 rebounds and five blocks in 26 minutes.

As for young Ed Davis, he continued to do the Raptors’ dirty work, finishing with 13 boards in just 23 minutes.

There was actually a point in the fourth quarter where Jay Triano had Bargnani, Johnson and Davis all on the floor together. It was a surprising look, and it will be interesting to see if we get it again at some point down the stretch of this lost season.

Before I go, I wanted to point out some interesting sights and sounds you may not have seen or heard if you watched this game on television. First, Bosh was actually booed in the pre-game layup line. When he received a pass, the boos rained down, and fans actually cheered when he missed a shot…in the pre-game warm-ups. Then during the singing of the U.S. national anthem, the crowd began to boo when Bosh was shown on the jumbo-tron. While I felt there was reason to boo Bosh, I also thought it was classless to do it during the national anthem.

In hockey, there is the sarcastic cheer that a struggling goalie receives when he makes a routine save. In basketball, in Toronto, we now have the sarcastic rebound cheer. In the last two home games at the ACC, there has been a noticeable, insincere cheer when Bargnani grabbed his first rebound.

Also, if you haven’t heard already, after the ball game, Bosh was the last player to leave the court, as he had been stopped for an interview with the Heat broadcasters. As he left the floor, Bosh stopped, blew kisses to the crowd and appeared to be making a type of “bring it on” hand motion. Some believe Bosh was actually being sincere, showing love for the city before he left. But it did not look like a sincere gesture from my vantage point, and these comments might confirm that.

Lastly, if you were wondering what the best in-arena sign was, it wasn’t even Bosh-related. It was actually intended for LeBron, and it was a cardboard cutout of Delonte West’s face. Need I say more?

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 39 Min, 38 Pts, 15-26 FG, 5-6 3Pt, 3-4 FT, 4 Reb, 3 TO

Heat Player of the Game: LeBron James – 38 Min, 23 Pts, 8-18 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 7-10 FT, 13 Reb, 8 Ast, 5 TO

Goat of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 15 Min, 2 Pts, 0-3 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO

Chris Bosh

Ho-hum, just another game in a long NBA season. Needless to say, the real spectacle tonight won’t be the game itself, it will be how Chris Bosh will be treated by the fans. They’re going to boo, that’s a given. As for the mentality of the Raptors themselves, how fired up are they going to be for this game?

The way I see it, I don’t think most of the Raptors are going into this game with much more intensity than they would normally have. Sure, they probably realize how happy the fans would be if they pulled off an upset tonight, but I don’t think they have any real animosity towards Bosh that will drive them to play at a higher level.

Why would any of the Raptors hate Bosh? Jose Calderon doesn’t have any hard feelings. I doubt Andrea Bargnani cares any more about Bosh leaving than he does about rebounding. Amir Johnson is now starting in Bosh’s place so he can’t be mad. DeMar DeRozan is being presented as the future of the franchise now so I can’t see why he would have beef.

I expect to hear about how this team “lacks heart” if they get destroyed tonight but that would not only be unfair, it would be completely disconnected from reality. The Raptors can play harder than they’ve played in any game this season but the talent disparity between the two teams is so extreme that I can’t see why that would manner. If anything, Miami’s “Two and a Half Men” are going to be the ones looking to send a message tonight. Hell, LeBron James is probably looking forward to crushing the spirit of another angry mob.

Be prepared that this game could get ugly in a hurry — the Heat had a 22-point lead over the Pacers after one quarter last night. I’d love for the Raptors to prove me wrong in my expectation that they’re probably going to get dominated tonight, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m mostly looking forward to some entertaining chants and signs.

Injury report

Toronto: Alexis Ajinca is questionable for tonight with turf toe.

Miami: Mike Miller suffered a head injury last night so he’s out tonight, while Mario Chalmers is listed a questionable with an ankle injury

Five questions

1. Did you know that the Heat are 30-3 in their last 33 games in which James, Wade and Bosh all played?

2. If Miami finishes with the second-best record in the league (behind the Spurs), do you think LeBron James will win the MVP award?

3. Why is this game on TSN2 instead of TSN tonight? Because there’s a Leafs game tonight, that’s why.

4. Will the fans at the Air Canada Centre get the wind knocked out of them if the Heat take a huge early lead and don’t let up?

5. Since Reggie Evans isn’t playing, who do you think is most likely to commit a hard foul on Bosh tonight?

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Liveblog: James Borbath on and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Miami: Eddie House, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James Chris Bosh, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Tonight’s pregame song is “I’ll Stick Around” by The Foo Fighters. I couldn’t find a particular “diss track” that seemed applicable, so this will have to do.