National Basketball Association
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