The Miami Heat’s playoff hopes might rest squarely on the shoulders of All-Star shooting guard Dwyane Wade. Down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Toronto Raptors, Miami preps to stave off elimination in Friday night’s Game 6 with Wade seemingly the last star standing.
The Heat entered the postseason without power forward Chris Bosh, who was eventually ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, then lost center Hassan Whiteside, and in Game 5’s 99-91 loss forward Luol Deng went down with a wrist injury.
Deng is questionable for Game 6 after an MRI revealed a bruise on his left wrist, leaving Wade to save the day against a Raptors squad that appears to have found its stride after stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry struggled for stretches in the series.
DeRozan unleashed 34 points and two steals on Miami and Lowry totaled 25 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists, giving Toronto its first shot at a spot in the Eastern Conference finals.
The 26-year-old DeRozan, who will be a free agent this summer, is shooting 34.8 percent during these playoffs but came up huge by going 11-for-22 from the field and got to the line 11 times, knocking down every attempt.
The victory may have come at a price though. Toronto forward DeMarre Carroll landed awkwardly on his left hand in the third quarter, and he’s also questionable for Game 6 even though tests came back negative.
Carroll, along with backup point guard Cory Joseph, have been the backbone of Toronto’s three-point shooting in the postseason.
With Deng getting hurt in the first half and eventually taken out in the third quarter, Wade would finish with 20 points, half of which came from the charity stripe, along with seven rebounds and four assists. Goran Dragic notched 13 points and went 6-for-14 from the floor, but couldn’t draw fouls like Wade.
Wade, 34, has transcended his age during the playoffs, carrying Miami on his back in key moments of the series. Wade said would admit the Heat face a steep challenge with so many injuries, but cast aside any talk of cow-towing early to the Raptors.
“We’ve lost two big guys in this series so far,” Wade said. “With that being said, we’ll be ready for Game 6. It’s the playoffs, and if you don’t enjoy the environment, you won’t be successful.”
Tipoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Odds: Miami -4 points
Over/Under: 189 points
Prediction: Toronto over Miami, 98-87