The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Tuesday.
Miami and Toronto have never opposed one another in the postseason until now. The winner of this series will move on to take on the winner of the series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. That next series would be the Eastern Conference finals with the winner making the NBA finals.
The Heat and Raptors played each other four times during the regular season, with Toronto winning three of the match-ups. It is important to note that one of those Miami losses came when Dwyane Wade was battling a thigh injury and sat out.
The first game between the teams during the season came on November 8th in Miami. The Heat won this game 96-76 with Chris Bosh leading the team in points. Bosh will be unavailable for this series and his availability for future rounds remains doubtful.
The teams would next meet on December 18th in Miami. This time around Toronto won 108-94 thanks to a strong second half. The Heat led that game at halftime, but were unable to continue playing well after coming out of the locker room.
On January 22nd, Miami would head north of the border and lose 101-81. The Heat trailed throughout in this game with only Bosh and Wade having good days. A 4-17 day from three-point land made things tough for Miami in the loss.
The fourth and final game between the teams took place on March 12th in Toronto. This is the aforementioned game that Wade missed. Toronto would win 112-104 in overtime as Miami struggled to have enough without its All-Star leader.
Without Bosh, Miami will need to continue to rely on the solid play of players such as Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. In previous games against the Raptors, Bosh was a strong presence as he made statements against his former club.
Raptors star Kyle Lowry struggled with his shooting in the first round, but remains one of the NBA's best. The Heat will need to keep Lowry quiet to improve their chances of advancing. When Lowry finds his rhythm on offense, Toronto becomes a much stronger adversary.
The first two games of the series will take place in Toronto with the Raptors holding home-court advantage. After opening the series on Tuesday, the teams will play every other day the rest of the way. Miami will host the third and fourth games. If necessary, the teams will alternate the final three games with Toronto hosting a possible seventh game.
The series will begin on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.