The Miami Heat lost their composure, and Udonis Haslem, in their last game. Though the Toronto Raptors are likely without Chris Bosh, the Heat might want Haslem to stick around this time because Charlie Villanueva will be available.
Haslem and the Heat hope to prevent Villanueva from having another big game and will try to move a step closer to wrapping up the Southeast Division title when they meet the Raptors.
With 12 games remaining and a big lead on second-place Washington, Miami may only have to win two more games to clinch the division.
In a 96-91 win over Indiana on Monday, Miami was charged with five technical fouls and Haslem got two of them, one for a heated exchange with Jermaine O’Neal and another for arguing an offensive foul call on the play that led to the altercation.
“I didn’t initiate it. Why would I initiate it, I got the rebound. He chested up and looked me in my eye,” Haslem said. “It’s a man thing. If you’re going to look me in the eye, I’m going to look you back in the eye.”
Haslem has yet to be fined or suspended, and Miami could use him to defend Villanueva if he’s still brimming with confidence after a 48-point outburst in a 125-116 overtime loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
Villanueva felt more of the burden offensively after Bosh, the team’s top scorer and rebounder, left with a sprained thumb in the first quarter.
“When Chris went out, someone had to step up, and I stepped up to the challenge,” said Villanueva, who shot 20-of-32 and had the highest point total by an NBA rookie this season.
“It feels good. It feels real good. It feels like you can’t be stopped. The basket feels bigger than it already is.”
Villanueva’s previous high had been 26 points and he had scored only six in each of the last two games.
Toronto may need another big night from the 6-foot-11 forward because Bosh is expected to miss at least a week.
“It hasn’t really been sweeling that much, so that’s a good thing,” Bosh said Monday. “I’m gonna continue to get treatment and make sure I take care of it.”
While Toronto will be without its young star, the Heat are looking for theirs to get untracked.
Dwyane Wade was held to 22 points on 7-of-21 shooting against Indiana. He’s averaged 19.7 points, nearly eight below his season average, and committed 14 turnovers over the last three games.
Shaquille O’Neal, though, has been playing well during that stretch to atone for Wade’s struggles, averaging 24.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 71.4 percent (20-of-28) at the foul line.
He made 11 of 14 free throws on Monday, finishing with 23 points and 11 rebounds as Miami rallied from a 14-point deficit.
“It was an ugly and emotional game,” O’Neal said. “In the first half we just let our emotions get a little bit too ahead of us. In the second half we came out and played with more focus and more poise and picked it up on defense a little.”
Though the Heat are 17-3 since Feb. 10, they have lost their last two road games.
Miami lost its only game at Toronto this season, 107-94 on Nov. 20, after winning its previous five games there.