National Basketball Association
Preview
Toronto at Miami
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, March 23, 2017
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida

The Miami Heat have risen into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, and a .500 record is the next stop. The Heat will try to reach the break-even point when they host another hot team battling for positioning in the East in the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.

Miami has not seen .500 since improving to 2-2 with an overtime win over Sacramento on Nov. 1 but gave itself a chance to reach the mark by rolling over the Phoenix Suns 112-97 on Tuesday. That win, coupled with the Detroit's loss at Brooklyn, gave the Heat sole possession of the No. 8 spot in the East, one game ahead of the Pistons. The Raptors are more comfortable in their playoff futures and are trying to jump back into the No. 3 spot. Toronto pulled within a half-game of the third-place Washington Wizards with a 122-120 overtime win over the Bulls on Tuesday that included a 16-point comeback in the final 16 minutes of regulation after a fistfight between Chicago's Robin Lopez and the Raptors' Serge Ibaka.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), FSN Sun (Miami)

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (42-29): Ibaka will at least be a little lighter in the wallet if not suspended after the melee on Tuesday, but at least Toronto found a group that could compete without Ibaka late in the game. "Win, lose or draw I thought we were scrapping, competing, and that’s all you can ask of your team this time of year, is to play that way," Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters. "We found the group that was going to go in there and fight. ... We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win in the first three quarters. We gave ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter." All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan led that charge and finished with 42 points and eight assists.

ABOUT THE HEAT (35-36): Miami has its sights set on moving up in the standings and is a half-game behind seventh-place Milwaukee and 1 1/2 back of sixth-place Indiana entering play on Tuesday, but the team was not all smiles after Tuesday's win. Center Hassan Whiteside grabbed 14 rebounds to reach 936 on the season - surpassing Rony Seikaly's franchise record of 934 - and scored 23 points before leaving late with a cut on his hand that required 13 stitches to close. "It's in an awkward place in his hand," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who watched Whiteside miss three games with a similar injury two seasons ago, told reporters. "I know people are thinking, 'Is it the same as two years ago? Is it worse?' We'll see."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Heat are already without SG Dion Waiters (ankle), who hopes to return before the end of the regular season.

2. Toronto PG Cory Joseph scored 19 points on Tuesday - his highest total since taking over the starting spot from Kyle Lowry (wrist) last month.

3. The teams split the first two meetings this season, with Miami earning a 104-89 home win on March 11.

PREDICTION: Raptors 102, Heat 96
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Toronto 42-29 W3 24-12 18-17 2-0 40-29 12-2 26-16
Miami 35-36 W1 21-15 14-21 0-1 35-35 6-7 21-21
Last Meeting
Toronto Miami
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
3/11/17 TOR 89 MIA 104 89 48 37.5 104 35 48.6
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Toronto D. DeRozan 17 31.2 7
Miami D. Waiters 20 60.0 4
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Toronto J. Valanciunas 10 4 6
Miami H. Whiteside 14 2 12
Assists Player  
Toronto D. Wright 3
Miami J. Johnson 5
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Toronto D. DeRozan 1801 46.5 482
Miami G. Dragic 1334 48.4 260
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Toronto J. Valanciunas 699 212 487
Miami H. Whiteside 998 257 741
Assists Player  
Toronto K. Lowry 400
Miami G. Dragic 405
Quickchart Matchup
Toronto Toronto Off vs  Miami Miami Defense
Toronto Off vs Miami - Points For 107.1 Points For
Toronto Off vs Miami - Points Against 102.0 Points Against
Toronto - FG% 46.2 FG%
Miami - FG% 44.9 FG%
Toronto - Reb 43.2 Reb
Miami - Reb 43.6 Reb
Miami Miami Off vs  Toronto Toronto Defense
Miami Off vs Toronto - Points For 103.0 Points For
Miami Off vs Toronto - Points Against 103.3 Points Against
Miami - FG% 45.5 FG%
Toronto - FG% 45.1 FG%
Miami - Reb 44.0 Reb
Toronto - Reb 42.4 Reb