NBA SUNDAY NIGHT: HEAT ON THE RAPTORS
The red-hot Toronto Raptors (44-32) will face a huge test on Sunday night when they host the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat (49-28).
This promises to be one of the biggest games of the regular season for Toronto.
While the Raptors are almost certainly destined to make the playoffs and avoid the play-in format, there does appears to be heightened energy on this team that we haven't seen since their championship season in 2019.
Toronto has won five straight games and has won 8 of their last ten. Miami is riding a 2-game win streak of their own, but has posted a pedestrian 5-5 mark in their last ten.
This game takes on some added drama since it will mark the return of beloved ex-Raptor Kyle Lowry to Toronto.
Tip-off is set for 4 pm ET.
A Special Note About Kyle Lowry:
This is a homecoming of sorts for former Raptor, and current Heat player Kyle Lowry. He issued this statement to fans in Toronto (read the full letter HERE):
"It’s like on one level, I know I’m gone. And with Sunday being my first game back, I want to show my love, and show my thanks to y’all. But then on this other level, it’s like: I hope everyone in Toronto is reading this, and almost reacting how Masai did to that phone call. Like on some level, I hope y’all are thinking “this article is bullsh*t.” Not because there’s any hate, but because that’s how much LOVE there is. Because that’s how much it goes without saying, what the last nine years meant. And what I feel about everything that we accomplished together....I’m excited as hell to play in Scotiabank Arena again, and to hear Raptors fans do their thing again. I’m excited to be on a court with Freddy and Pascal and O.G. again — if Masai is big bro, then those are my little bros, and they’re the guys now, they’re taking over. And I’m excited to experience that energy of Toronto basketball again."
OPINION (powered by pointspreads.ca):
The Raptors might be the better team at the moment, despite the Heat resting comfortably in first place.
For one thing, Toronto played Miami tough in all three previous games this season, winning two outright. Their 3-OT win in January stands as one of the NBA's best games of the season.
There should be tremendous energy out on the court with Lowry hoping to bring fans to their feet in a different uniform. Even with the extra intangibles, it's impossible to ignore how well Toronto is playing right now.
Key Fact: The Heat play in Chicago the night before, a huge game for both of those teams. So, this might be too much to handle facing two tough rivals within a 24-hour stretch.
Take the Raptors.