Game 3 Review
In a series that has been a lot more exciting than the first game indicated, the Toronto Raptors saw a steady resurgence from their premier guard Kyle Lowry and well timed contributions from their Lithuanian import Jonas Valanciunas. And in a very familiar role, the battle hardened Miami Heat general Dwanye Wade displayed that he is still willing and very much capable of carrying an entire franchise on his back with a 38 point, 8 rebound, and 4 assist effort. The must win road game became a virtual lead guard duel with Lowry racking up 33 points in an 11-19 shooting night that had him connecting on five out of eight 3-pointers. The series may have become even more guard dominated now that the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside (knee) and the Raptor’s Valanciunas (ankle) have each suffered side lining injuries. With the scenario set, it came down to a fourth quarter perimeter battle which saw Lowery and the Raptors come out on top.
Keys To The Game
The Raptors continue to push through yet another series that has seen their inconsistent guard play attempt to right its way. These have been valuable lessons to a young team that has yet to leave the playoff scene. With a perimeter based scoring attack, the Raptor’s will need to see continued shooting performances from Lowry and more contributions from DeMar DeRozan especially in the fourth quarter. The loss of Valanciunas for the remainder of the series has put the Raptor’s in a vulnerable position due to the necessity of solid rebounding for a team that relies heavily on its guards. Miami’s chances have always been based on the play of Dwayne Wade but he will need a lot more help from his team in order to even up this series. The less than stellar performances of Joe Johnson have the Heat searching for alternative scoring in a guard-lean bench which saw Justise Winslow log in a DNP- coach’s decision. The loss of Whiteside creates a similar scenario that Toronto is facing but to a lesser degree with a day-to-day prognosis for the Heat’s center. Unfortunately time catches up with everyone and although Wade has done a magnificent job of managing it, these fourth quarter sprints to the finish line will eventually catch up with him.
The X-Factor for the Raptor’s is Luis Scola. The 36-year-old power will have to muster up some of that old school effort on the boards and physical play. He’s going to have to shake off that rust quickly in order to make his contributions count but with his knowledge of the game and solid experience he maybe more productive than the stats would indicate. Occasional scoring, consistent ball moving, and key rebounding could make him one of those secrete weapons.
The X-Factor for the Heat is Joe Johnson and Justise Winslow. This could manifest itself in an opportune shooting performance by Joe Johnson or a well rounded feat by rookie forward Winslow. If Johnson can maintain a shooting touch well into the third quarter, it can allow Wade to be more versatile in order to have the energy to make those 4th quarter runs. With Winslow’s contribution, Wade can focus more on scoring and managing his team that can also allow him to save energy for the finish.
Prediction: With home court not being an advantage for either team, I believe the Miami Heat will win tonight’s game. I find it very difficult for Wade to let the series just slide away from Miami with a chance to face LeBron James in the next series. Heat wins 100-96.