A hard-fought victory over the Western Conference’s top team gave the Toronto Raptors’ confidence a boost as they try to keep pace in the East’s crowded playoff picture.
The Miami Heat don’t have any such momentum after falling just short against the NBA’s best club.
The Raptors and the Heat, both part of a logjam of teams contending for playoff spots in the East, continue their season series Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
Toronto (23-22) is in sixth place in the East, one-half game behind Miami (23-21) and just ahead of Chicago and Charlotte.
The Raptors and Heat have each won a game at home in this season’s series, which may very well become a tiebreaker for playoff position. They’ll meet one more time in the regular season, at Miami on March 28.
Toronto enters this contest with nine wins in its last 10 home games, including a 106-105 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. Hedo Turkoglu(notes) made two free throws with 1.2 seconds left to give the Raptors their fourth win in six games overall.
“I hope it builds momentum,” coach Jay Triano said. “I’d hate to single it out as a great, great win, and us hanging our hats on that. There’s a lot of basketball that we still have to play, and we want to use the momentum from this win and keep moving forward.”
“The good, the bad, you’re up, you’re down,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’ll take it all with this team.”
Wade had 32 points, but only two after halftime. He missed two big free throws with 41.2 seconds left.
Wade is averaging 34.2 points in his last five road games against Toronto.
Toronto’s Chris Bosh(notes) had 28 points in a 115-95 loss to the Heat on Dec. 15, and is averaging 30.3 in his last three games against them. He had 18 points and 13 rebounds versus the Lakers for his 32nd double-double, one shy of Orlando’s Dwight Howard(notes) for the league lead.
Turkoglu has shot 26.0 percent and averaged 8.4 points over his last eight games, including nine points on 1-of-6 shooting Sunday, but maybe his clutch free throws were a sign the slump is about to end.
“Hopefully this will help get me over the hump and play much better,” he said.