Kyle Lowry was an All-Star for the second year in a row and ranked eighth in scoring (21.2), 12th in assists (6.4) and second in minutes per game (37) among all guards in the regular season. But his drop off in scoring (13.9) and shooting (31.6 percent, 7 of 43 three-pointers) in the first round against the Pacers is a bit alarming. He also didn’t shoot great against the Heat in four regular-season meetings with Miami (16.8 points, 33.9 percent shooting, 25.9 percent from three). Goran Dragic, meanwhile, is coming off a stellar Game 7 performance against the Hornets. after a disappointing start to the postseason.
Dwyane Wade shot 47.1 percent and averaged 19 points, 5.4 rebounds, five assists and a block per game in the first round against the Hornets. Only James Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James matched those 19-5-5 averages. But the Raptors have an All-Star shooting guard, too, in DeMar DeRozan, who is coming off a 30-point Game 7.
DeMarre Carroll was a big offseason signing for the Raptors, but hasn’t looked great after missing 46 games in the regular season — including all four against Miami — with injuries. Still, Carroll is an excellent defender (the Pacers shot a team-low 36.5 percent of the shots Carroll defended) and with his size (6-8, 215) he can go toe-to-toe with the Heat’s Joe Johnson (6-7, 240). Johnson lit up the Raptors for 28 points in Miami’s only meeting after the All-Star break on March 12.
Patrick Patterson (6-9, 230) starts for the Raptors because of what he provides on defense and his 41.7 percent shooting average from three-point range in the playoffs. But he’s got his hands full with Luol Deng, who is coming off a sensational series against Charlotte (19 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 51.3 percent on threes). Deng averaged only 11.7 points and shot 32 percent in three games against Toronto in the regular season.
Jonas Valanciunas (7-0, 265) averaged 13.6 points and 11.9 rebounds in Round 1 and is a big reason why the Raptors are averaging the most second-chance points in the playoffs (16). Hassan Whiteside averaged 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.7 blocks against Toronto in three regular-season meetings and won’t need to defend Valanciunas like he did the skillful Al Jefferson in Round 1.
The Heat’s bench has averaged the third-fewest points (23.1) in the playoffs, while the Raptors are averaging the sixth-most (34.1). Guards Cory Joseph (10.7 points, 2.4 assists) and Norman Powell (6.4 points, 2.4 rebounds) have emerged for Toronto since the Heat last played the Raptors. The Heat is going to need rookies Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow to straighten out their shooting in Round 2. Richardson shot 31.4 percent in Round 1 and Winslow shot 42.5 percent.
Dwane Casey finally got the Raptors over the first-round hump. He’s also 5-2 head-to-head against Erik Spoelstra over the last two seasons. Still, Spoelstra has two NBA titles to his name and that counts for something in the playoffs.