May 15, 2016, 9:35 pm
While the rest of the basketball world awaits the conference finals to begin, the Raptors and Heat were battling it out for the final spot in the NBA’s final four. The Heat have recent success reaching the finals from 2011-2014, while the Raptors look to reach their first conference finals in league history. Let’s take a look at Game 7 between the two on Sunday afternoon and peek around the association in Monday’s Daily Dish:
RAPTORS 116, HEAT 89
The only two survivors from Game 7s in the 2016 NBA playoffs squared off to see who could survive yet another round (Heat over Hornets in 7, Raptors over Pacers in 7). The Raptors led 86-78 to begin the fourth quarter, before stretching the lead 96-80 with 9:41 remaining in the game after back-to-back threes by the Raptors and a slam by Bismack Biyombo (17 points, 16 boards and two blocks). The Heat couldn’t recover from the knockout punch.
Kyle Lowry put together another excellent game with 35 points (11-for-20 FGs, 8-for-11 FTs), seven boards, nine assists, four steals and five threes. After a horrendous start to the postseason, Lowry is really cooking. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Speaking of slow starts, DeMar DeRozan came through with a big game after questions about his hand injury and sporadic benchings during this series. DeRozan put up 28 points (12-for-29 FGs, 4-for-7 FTs) with eight rebounds and one assist to close out the Heat.
All five starters for the Raptors put together productive lines. Patrick Patterson double-doubled in 37 minutes, posting 11 points with 11 rebounds, one steal and two blocks. DeMarre Carroll added 14 points (4-for-5 FGs, 4-for-4 FTs) with five boards, two assists and two threes in 33 minutes. The Raptors dominated the fourth quarter 30-11 and made their way to their first conference finals in franchise history.
As for the Heat, a long and important offseason awaits. The Heat only have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2016-17. Dwyane Wade (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and two threes) is not one of them. Wade will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and figures to draw a ton of interest after a very productive regular season and postseason. Joe Johnson (13 points, three boards, two assists and one three ball) and Luol Deng (12 points, two rebounds and three blocks) will also join Wade as free agents. Hassan Whiteside (knee) should fully recover from his injury in time for next season, but he too will be a free agent. Amar’e Stoudemire and Whiteside round out a very attractive list of free agents that the Heat will send to the market. There is no telling what they will look like come October.
Barring any trades, the Heat will retain the services of Goran Dragic. He put up 16 points (6-for-17 FGs, 4-for-5 FTs) with six rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 38 minutes. Dragic is under contract for over $70 million over the next four seasons. He should be back as a solid mid-round fantasy asset next season. Justise Winslow will also join the Heat next season. Winslow put up 14 points with eight boards, two steals, two blocks and two threes in 36 minutes. He sure isn’t a rookie anymore. His value will still be relatively low in standard leagues next season.
Josh McRoberts remains under contract for the Heat next season as well. McBob was the only Heat player to score double-digits off of the bench, scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting with one rebound and one assist. He will go undrafted in fantasy leagues next season.
Chris Bosh (blood clots) is also under contract, but his NBA status is still unknown. Bosh was playing at an all-star level this season and finished in the top-35 in standard formats. It is sad to see such a tremendous talent struggle through an odd set back. If Bosh returns next season, he will come with the same risk as he has over the past two seasons. I love the guy, but you won’t see him on any of my fantasy teams in the future.
The Raptors now travel to Cleveland for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.
AROUND THE ASSOCIATION
Now that the Raptors have cleared another Game 7 hurdle (only the 15th team to win two Game 7s in NBA history), they will likely start without the presence of Jonas Valanciunas (ankle). JV was spotted with a noticeable limp and according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey, he isn’t close to a return. Expect Bismack Biyombo to carry the load at center for the Raptors.
Andrew Bogut (adductor) is listed as questionable for Game 1 on Monday between the Warriors and Thunder. Bogut participated in practice on Sunday, marking the first time he has participated in basketball activities since Game 5 against the Blazers last week. With the Thunder using their Steven Adams–Enes Kanter frontcourt combo more often, the Warriors will need Bogut to be healthy.
Several teams have been in the news for the NBA’s coaching carousel over the last 24 hours. The Pacers and Nate McMillan are closing in on a deal that would promote McMillan to head coach. The New York Knicks are interested in his predecessor Frank Vogel and Phil Jackson reportedly met with him last week. In addition, the Grizzlies met with Spurs assistant coach James Borrego on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Blazers are reportedly offering coach Terry Stotts a five-year contract worth $20 million. Stotts finished second in coach of the year honors.
The Timberwolves have announced a press conference on Monday to announce that Karl-Anthony Towns will received Rookie of the Year honors for the 2015-16 season. KAT was an absolute beast this season and looks to be a trendy first round fantasy pick in redraft leagues next season after posting first round numbers already in his first year.
That will do it for Monday’s Daily Dish. Follow @HoopBallTweets for up to date information year-round on all things NBA. I’m @RiazD on Twitter. Feel free to reach out and ask for advice on DFS, standard leagues and anything outside of basketball. Have a great week!