One day after learning All-Star power forward Chris Bosh won’t join them for the remainder of the postseason, the Miami Heat try to extend their 1-0 series lead over the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals matchup Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Heat officially declared Bosh out for the rest of the playoffs Wednesday, following pressure from the NBA Players Association to render some sort of decision on Bosh’s status but still leaving some mystery as to what is exactly keeping the 11-time All-Star off the court.
Bosh, 32, hasn’t appeared in a game since Feb. 9 and his condition is evidently related to a reported blood clot in his leg, an issue that stems from last season, leading Sun-Sentinel reporter and Heat beat writer Ira Winderman to speculate the two-time NBA champion won’t play professionally again.
Still, the Heat went a respectable 19-10 during Bosh’s absence in the regular season, while requiring a full seven games to bump Charlotte out of the first round. On Wednesday, the Heat expressed appreciation for their future Hall-of-Fame big man, as well as motivation.
"It makes you come out and just do a little bit more, because you've got somebody who would kill to be out there, who would do anything just to be on the floor,'' Dwyane Wade said, according to ESPN. "I take that into every game with me, for sure.''
Miami also gained an early edge on the No. 2-seeded Raptors with a 102-96 Game 1 overtime victory, thanks to guard Goran Dragic’s 26 points, Wade’s 24 points, and center Hassan Whiteside’s 17 rebounds.
After a slow start in the first round, Dragic has come alive for Miami in the last two games. He’s now scored 25 or more in two straight, gone a combined 5-for-9 from long range, and attacked the basket for nine trips to the foul line.
Toronto, having advanced to the second round for just the second time in 15 years, required a six-point comeback in the last 20 seconds of regulation to force overtime, including a half-court, buzzer-beating shot from point guard Kyle Lowry that should have swung all the momentum to the Raptors.
The improbable shot helped Lowry somewhat forget his dismal 3-for-13 shooting night, while big man Jonas Valanciunas notched 24 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks, and DeMar DeRozan lit up Miami for 22 points and six rebounds.
But Wade would score seven of his 24 in overtime and the Heat stand to further cripple Toronto’s home-court advantage in Game 2, before the series heads back to Miami for Games 3 and 4.
Tip-off: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Betting Odds: Toronto -4.5 points
Over/Under: 188 points
Prediction: Toronto over Miami, 97-90