The 2019-20 NBA campaign resumption continues on Monday, as two Eastern Conference rivals who won their opening match in this summer’s Orlando restart clash from Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Miami stunned Denver with a 125-105 victory against one of the West’s top sides before Toronto showed they’re primed to defend their championship crown by comfortably beating the Lakers. Who will prevail in this one? Read my basketball preview, for the best betting odds ahead of this interesting H2H matchup.
Miami Heat vs Toronto Raptors preview
The ball movement and defence on display was admirable to say the least from Miami, enroute to a well-earned victory against the Nuggets on Saturday.
They kept Denver’s Nikola Jokic to 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, while Jerami Grant (7-of-14, also 19 pts) was more efficient from the bench.
It rather told a story that Erik Spoelstra’s men are prepared to grind their way to impressive victories and did so with multiple scoring options scattered across the floor.
Toronto were happy to capitalise against the slow-starting Lakers after their gruelling battle with crosstown rivals Clippers two days earlier, but Kyle Lowry led the game. 33 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and six assists with five threes to boot? He’ll be key in this matchup too.
Key players to watch out for
Heat: Bam Adebayo – For their last game, I picked Jimmy Butler (6-of-11, 22 points, seven assists) and in fairness, the 30-year-old didn’t disappoint.
Crucially though, neither did first-time All-Star forward Bam against Denver.
He had 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. Continuing to show why he’s so highly-regarded, the 23-year-old was a reliable scorer and stifled the Denver offense too.
After that encouraging display, he’s got an even tougher test against Toronto next. In two meetings with Nick Nurse’s men this term, he’s recording close to his season average stats but needs another big performance to overwhelm the East’s second-best team.
Raptors: Fred VanVleet – I highlighted Siakam last time out and in fairness, he struggled with his shot (5-of-17, 15 points) against the Lakers.
So, I’ve gone for a guard whose stock is continually rising in VanVleet.
Averaging career-highs in points (17.5), assists (6.7), rebounds (3.8), steals (1.9) and minutes (35.9) this term, the 26-year-old has grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
Across both teams, no-one played more minutes than his 40 against the Lakers and it was a commendable display. Heralded as a sharpshooter, he made three shots from deep but his playmaking really came to the fore.
With a game-high 11 assists to accompany 13 points, five rebounds, a steal and block, he’ll be itching to showcase more against tough opposition here.
Match prediction: Toronto Raptors to win
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Miami Heat vs Toronto Raptors head to head
Toronto are slight favourites to win this encounter, with a 58% advantage in their favour according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
After blasting the Lakers off the court on Saturday night, it’s easy to see why. Miami have already exceeded expectations this term and boast a deep roster, though Toronto possess big-game experience.
Will that prove the definitive factor here? Nick Nurse knows the Raptors can get better, while Miami’s bench unit – aside from Kelly Olynyk (20 points, five rebounds, three assists) were largely underwhelming in their latest victory.
In H2H meetings, Miami hold a 20-game win advantage vs. Toronto. After being swept 4-0 in 2018/19, the Heat have won both encounters this season and should be bullish about their chances here.
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