TORONTO—A week before the Toronto Raptors tip off the much-anticipated NBA post-season, their strong finish yesterday against a desperate Miami team gave a glimpse of what playoff opponents might expect.
In Dwyane Wade's final appearance in Toronto, and against a Heat team scrapping for a playoff spot, the Raptors erased a double-digit deficit to beat Miami 117-109 in overtime yesterday, in their final home game of the season.
“If we can keep that intensity up and communicate and rotate the way we did in that fourth and overtime, we'll be pretty tough to beat,” said Danny Green, who had 21 points.
Pascal Siakam had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Norm Powell finished with 23 points on 7-for-7 shooting, and Kawhi Leonard had 22 for the Raptors (57-24), who have one game left—tomorrow in Minnesota—before the playoffs open next weekend.
Dwyane Wade led the Heat (38-41) with 21 points in his final trip to Toronto.
The three-time NBA champion is retiring this off-season after 15 years in the league.
Leonard and Wade exchanged jerseys after the game.
“Just going through those championship series (when Leonard was with San Antonio) and facing him, and that Miami Heat team is the greatest team I have ever played,” Leonard said.
“Being that young and having to guard Wade and LeBron it got me to where I am today. Losing and then coming back and winning just helped me out, man. It's like I told him before, me going through that and them being as great as they are just made me a better player,” he added.
The Heat began the day in ninth in the East, one game behind Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot, and it was obvious through the first three quarters who was the more desperate of the two teams.
Miami led by 13 points early on before the Raptors, who had beaten the Heat three times previously this season, closed to within a point—79-78 —with one quarter to play.
The teams traded the lead numerous times down the stretch. Back-to-back threes and a pair of free throws by Leonard sent the game into the final minute all tied up. But Leonard's shot with 10 seconds to play bounced off the rim. A basket by Bam Adebayo at the buzzer was waved off.
Green scored the first five points of the extra period, and Siakam drilled a three-pointer from in front of Miami's bench that had the fans roaring. The three-pointer put Toronto up by seven points with 39 seconds to play and it was all but game over.
The Raptors, who locked up their post-season spot long ago, continue to wait to see who they'll play in the first round.
Heading into yesterday's schedule of games, just a game-and-a-half separated No. 6 through 9 in the East—Brooklyn, Orlando, Detroit and Miami.
Detroit played Charlotte later Sunday, while Brooklyn played Indiana and Orlando faced Boston.
Wade, meanwhile, received a standing ovation when he came off the bench in the first quarter. No. 3 Wade jerseys dotted the Scotiabank Arena crowd.
The Raptors led briefly by six points in the first quarter, but the Heat closed the quarter with a 9-2 run to lead 26-25 to start the second.
Miami stretched their advantage to 13 points on a running layup by Dion Waiters midway through the second, and went into the halftime break up 57-50.
In other NBA action yesterday, the Spurs halted the Cavaliers 112-90; the Thunder beat the T'wolves 132-126; the Hornets stung the Pistons 104-91; the Nets beat the Pacers 108-96; the Mavericks edged the Grizzlies 129-127; the Rockets blasted the Suns 149-113; the Bucks beat the Hawks 115-107; the Magic defeated the Celtics 116-108; the Knicks beat the Wizards 113-110; the Warriors beat the Clippers 131-104; the Trail Blazers downed the Nuggets 115-108; the Pelicans beat the Kings 133-129; and the Lakers beat the Jazz 113-109.