Each side missing their frontcourt anchors and the series knotted at 2-2, the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat angle for an advantage in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
Miami, which proved victorious 94-87 in overtime in Game 4 to even the series thanks to guard Dwyane Wade’s 30 points and undying resurgence in these playoffs, will try to put the Raptors back on their heels despite the absence of center Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside, who is highly skilled at altering shots in the paint, will miss a second straight game due to a sprained right knee ligament and didn't make the trip to Canada. An unrestricted free agent this summer, Whiteside is listed as day-to-day but the Heat would be missing him even more if the Raptors weren’t also down center Jonas Valanciunas for the rest of the series.
Topping the Raptors in both rebounds and blocks during these playoffs, the Lithuanian went down with a severely sprained ankle in Game 4’s 95-91 win but unlike Whiteside he’s already been nixed no matter how long the series lasts and he could be out even longer if Toronto’s manages to advance.
Miami went with veteran Amare Stoudemire and Toronto Bismack Biyombo in Game 4, but this series has largely come down to the backcourt, with Wade dueling with the Raptors All-Star duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and winning.
Though he’s averaging 17.5 points a contest, DeRozan’s dealing with a thumb injury and his shot has fallen just 35 percent of the time. Lowry exploded for 33 points in the Game 4 win, but hasn’t shot better than 31.8 percent in the three other games.
Wade, on the other hand, has been a revelation throughout the series and this postseason. The 34-year-old notched only 19 points a contest during the regular season, and did the same against Charlotte in the first round, but has since lit up Toronto for 27.3 a game, including 68 total in the last two.
Tipoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Live Stream: TNT Overtime
Betting Odds: Toronto -4.5 points
Over/Under: 188.5 points
Prediction: Toronto over Miami, 97-90