This past Sunday, two cities, one with recent playoff success and the other with next to none, got a taste of joy and jubilation after winning a Game 7 on their home court. Albeit it was just the first round, but both Miami and Toronto have plenty of reason to believe that their postseason run can and should continue at the other's expense.
Despite knowing that the winner of the Charlotte vs. Miami series would play my hometown Raptors, it was the last series on my radar in terms of interest.
Despite my lack of South Beach knowledge, I am confident in my knowledge of the Raptors and how they plan to come out and play the game. Everyone knows Dwane Casey preaches defense first, but it is that very defense that nearly cost the Raptors the series against Indiana.
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It's tough on any team to hit the reset button and focus on another opponent after battling with a team for seven games, but the daunting task must be met with eagerness and a will to succeed. While the first game might be the most unpredictable game of the series, we do have the regular season to look back on as a sort of guide.
Toronto has won five of the last six meetings and has held Miami to 47 percent shooting or less in each of those games.
Let's skip the side and total for Game 1 and focus on some prop opportunities that have a good chance in cashing for us. As always, odds and lines are courtesy of Bovada.
First Team to 20 Points
Miami +110, Toronto -140
The entire Raptors team and fan base should feel like a giant monkey has been lifted off of their backs and should be able to breathe a little easier. From what I've read and come to expect from this Raptors team I think we can all agree that the pressure usually gets to them. It was evident in the first series against Indiana. Don't get me wrong, there is pressure in the second round, but it is a "we are supposed to be here" kind of pressure.
There is absolutely nothing stopping the Raptors from coming out guns-a-blazing in the first quarter of Game 1. They've been home since Saturday and should be focused on what it's going to take to get Miami behind the eight-ball early.
The Raptors have won the first quarter against Indiana in four out of the seven games, which bodes well for this prop.
I like what Demar DeRozan did in Game 7 and I expect him to lead his team in Game 1 by staying aggressive and getting other people involved.
I'll take the hungry and desperate-to-prove-something Raptors squad to come out in Game 1 and get the crowd going by blitzing the Heat in the first quarter.
Pick: Toronto -140
Team Total Points
Miami Heat - "Over" 93.5 -110, "Under" 93.5" -110
If the Raptors want to be successful in this series, they must limit the Heat's point in the paints and guard the 3-point line a hell of a lot better than they did against Indiana.
Fortunately for the Raptors, they have held Miami to shooting under 47 percent as a team in the last six matchups. Something that will need to continue - and something I believe will continue moving forward in this series.
The Miami bench was almost a non-factor against Charlotte by getting outscored on average 32-23. If that is any indication, the Heat could be in for some dry spells as they have to rely on aging veterans to get the job done against a half-decent defense (when they want to be). If I had to play a side or a total, I would side to the "under" in this game, thus leaving me no choice but to take Miami's team total "under" the number.
Pick: "Under" 93.5 -110
Total Points - Jonas Valanciunas
"Over" 13.5 -110, "Under" 13.5 -110
Jonas Valanciunas was a beast in the opening-round series against Indiana. The big Lithuanian scored in double-digits in six of the seven games and was a beast on the boards in most games.
He will be guarded by Hassan Whiteside, who, in my opinion is a tad overhyped as a defender. Sure, he's long and athletic and averages a few blocks per game, but this year's version of "JV" is much better than past versions.
He has an aggressive first step to get himself in position to score as well as his offensive rebounding and hunger for the ball have been unmatched so far this postseason.
I expect the Raptors to feed the big man early to establish him and then open the floor with their outside shooting. It's going to be tough, but as a double-double machine, JV should get to the 14-point mark.
Pick: "Over" 13.5 - 110
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