Game Seven Decides Eastern Conference Finals Showdown: Will It Be Miami or Toronto Taking On LeBron James?
Both of these teams, the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors, are no strangers to what it’s like to play in a Game 7. In the last series, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 to advance to the Semi-Finals. On the other hand, the Miami Heat took the Washington Wizards to a Game 7, where they also advanced to the Semi-Finals. Now, in spectacular fashion, these two teams meet in a Game 7 for a chance to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference Championship.
First off, let’s note that the Miami Heat have a bigger chip on their shoulder coming into this game. Not only did they take the Wizards to 7 games, but they did it after being down in the series 3-2. Not only that, but the Heat also found themselves down 3-2 against the Raptors, before their victory on Friday. Now, with the series tied at 3 games a piece, the Heat have a chance to make history.
So far, this series has been a rollercoaster ride for both teams. After the first game, the Miami Heat got a jump start on the Raptors. However, two games later, many people started doubting the Miami Heat. Down 2-1, the Miami Heat managed to tie the series up before heading back to Toronto, where the Raptors were able to secure the 3-2 series lead. Game 6 saw a different outcome than any of the other games. The Heat pretty much controlled the entire game, a feat neither team has been able to truly accomplish this season.
For Game 7, I think we can expect the game to be more like Games 1-5. If the game doesn’t end in overtime — or multiple overtime — then it will most likely be a game decided in the final minute.
With the game set to tip-off at 12:30 PM PT on Sunday, May 15th, let’s take a look at some key points each team needs to focus on in order to advance.
Key Points for the Miami Heat
In case we aren’t already clear on this, the Miami Heat desperately need Goran Dragic to continue his elite level of play. Without him manning the point guard position, the Heat have been unable to control a game. As proven in Game 6, even with a struggling Joe Johnson, Goran Dragic was able to make his presence known in every way possible — scoring, defense, playmaking, rebounding.
In the three wins this series, Dragic 23.7 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game. In addition to that, he has combined for a +49 in those three games. It’s been obvious that the Heat are at their best when Dragic is in control of his game.
Another one of the main reasons the Miami Heat made it this far is due to Dwyane Wade’s ability to close out games in clutch fashion. To give credit where credit is due, Wade has been consistently great throughout all four quarters. However, especially with the games as close as they have been, the Heat need him to have those clutch moments down the stretch.
In this series, Wade is averaging 25.2 points per game, 3.7 assists per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, 1.0 block per game and 1.2 steals per game. He has also managed to shoot the ball at an efficient rate of 47%.
If the Heat can get 50 points out of Wade and Dragic, then all they will need is good defense and good contributions from their role players.
Joe Johnson has been ice cold this postseason and especially in this series. The Heat need him to his his shots consistently, with emphasis on the three-ball. Johnson has had a way of hitting those timely shots in his career, but has struggled to show that side of his game this series.
Another key role player is Justise Winslow. He had a great Game 6 and helped bring the team balance. He ended the game with 12 points off 4-9 shooting — 1 of 1 from three-point and 3-4 from free-throw — and also added 3 rebounds and 1 assist. His ability to score would be a gift for the Heat in Game 7.
Key Points for the Toronto Raptors
DeRozan and Lowry
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are clearly the leaders on the Toronto Raptors’
team. They are dealt with more pressure than any other Raptor. However, they seem to handle it very well because they definitely put their fair share in each and every game.
These two guards have had an up-and-down series so far. However, the Raptors have been at their best when they are both playing their type of game. Lowry has found a way to make timely buckets, while DeRozan has been a pain-in-the-a** with his mid-range jumper.
This series, Kyle Lowry is averaging 40.2 minutes per game, 21.5 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 5.3 assists per game and 2.3 steals per game. On the other hand, DeMar DeRozan is averaging 39.2 minutes per game, 21.2 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game.
The past three games, the Raptors have asked a lot more from Biyombo than usual. With the injury to Jonas Valanciunas, he was the next man up in rotation. In Games 4 and 5, Biyombo made good contributions with 13 points and 10 points respectively. He has also recorded 13 rebounds in two of those three games, 4 and 6.
Biyombo is going to have to bring a lot of emphasis on the glass and giving the Raptors second chance points. If he can fulfill the shoes of Valanciunas, the Raptors will have a good chance at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Carroll is having a decent series, giving the Raptors a pretty good contribution. However, he will have to really prove he is worth his contract in Game 7. He can bring a lot to this team, including his defense, three-point shooting and ability to space the floor.
So far this series, Carroll is averaging 10.2 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 0.8 assists per game, 1.2 steals per game and shooting 43 percent from the floor. If he can shoot the ball efficiently and help get the rest of his team involved, he would be fulfilling his role.
After the game on Sunday, we will officially know the four teams that will be playing for a chance at the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.
With the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers already inked in, it’s up to the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors to battle it out for that final spot.
(Game Seven Decides Eastern Conference Finals Showdown) (Game Seven Decides Eastern Conference Finals Showdown) (Game Seven Decides Eastern Conference Finals Showdown)