Heat vs. Raptors Odds, Pick & Preview: How to Fade Miami in Lowry’s Return to Toronto (April 3)
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry.
- The Raptors host the Heat in Kyle Lowry's first game in Toronto since leaving for Miami last offseason.
- The Raptors are six-point home favorites as the Heat will be without Jimmy Butler, among others.
- Check out Roberto Arguello's analysis and pick below.
Heat vs. Raptors Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
*Editor’s Note (4:15 p.m. ET): The Heat have ruled Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, Gabe Nnamdi Vincent and Dewayne Dedmon all out on Sunday afternoon against the Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors host the Miami Heat on Sunday in the fourth and final meeting between these teams this season.
The Raptors have won two of the three previous meetings between these franchises. This will also be a special game as it marks the first time Kyle Lowry returns to Toronto since joining Miami last summer.
The Heat have had an up-and-down last few weeks. Two weeks ago, the Heat had a commanding grip one the one seed in the Eastern Conference, but they then proceeded to lose four consecutive games as they played horrific defense — something we haven’t seen from them for long stretches.
This brought other teams like the Bucks, 76ers and Celtics back into play for the top seed. However, the Heat have bounced back this week with three wins in a row, including two statement victories over the Celtics and Bulls in their last two games.
With the Nets more likely to be the eighth to 10th seed by the day, the question remains whether the Heat should even want the top seed, but I’d be very surprised to see they try to duck them and not go for the No. 1 seed.
However, with this game being on the second leg of a back-to-back set with a veteran-heavy roster, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Miami rest some of its more experienced players like Jimmy Butler, Lowry or PJ Tucker.
The Heat only played one player more than 30 minutes in their 18-point win over the Bulls on Saturday. That was Jimmy Butler, who played 35 minutes, so this is worth keeping in mind if you want to bet on them.
The Raptors have been playing some of the best basketball as they enter this contest on a five-game winning streak and continue to climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Toronto is now in fifth after the Heat’s win over the Bulls pushed Chicago into sixth place.
The Raptors don’t have great depth, but they have a ton of smart and athletic wings with ridiculous wingspans playing alongside Fred VanVleet, who is having a career year. They have continued to improve throughout the regular season, especially on defense.
Up until Jan. 1, the Raptors ranked just 22nd in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency (111.3, excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass). Since the new year, they have flipped a switch as they have gotten healthier, and they rank fifth in the NBA in Defensive Rating (109.7) and lead the NBA in Defensive Rating (104.8) over the last two weeks.
The questions for the Raptors come offensively, where they rank just 16th in Offensive Efficiency (112.7). The Raptors are especially poor in the halfcourt, where they rank 27th with a 91.4 Offensive Rating (per Cleaning The Glass).
The Raptors, who have taken the last two meetings, present a tough matchup for the Heat. Miami would love to try and hunt mismatches with Butler, like it did against the Bulls, but this is nearly impossible against the long, versatile Toronto defense.
The Raptors also have the length and athleticism to make life tough for Tyler Herro, which means the Heat’s top two leading scorers will both need to make tougher shots than normal to pull the slight upset.
4:15 p.m. ET Update: During the Heat’s recent four-game losing streak, a big part of that was a disruption of the normal rotation when Vincent, Dedmon and Martin were all not playing (or at least seeing far fewer minutes than usual).
Losing Vincent means that the Heat will be without a key nall-handler, facilitator and point-of-attack defender. Losing Dedmon means the Heat won’t have any length inside besides Markieff Morris and Omer Yurtseven – both of whom will struggle against Toronto’s athletes.
Butler and Martin are both key smart and athletic perimeter players for the Heat who will be missed defensively. They play key roles in helping out for the defensive weak links against Toronto’s Pterodactyl-like wings driving to the basket, and Dedmon’s loss won’t help behind them as the Heat’s second-best rim protector.
With Butler, Vincent, Martin and Dedmon all out for the Heat, take the Raptors on the spread at -5.5 on BetMGM. Alternatively, I also like the value of a live bet on the Raptors spread at any number -4 or better when the Heat check Bam Adebayo out of the game.
I’m playing a half unit on -5.5 and will play somewhere between another half unit and 1.5 units on the timing and value of my live bet when Adebayo leaves the floor.
Pick: Raptors -5.5 | Live bet Raptors -4 or better when Adebayo leaves the court
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