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Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat: Game Grades and Analysis for Heat

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Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat: Game Grades and Analysis for Heat
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For the 14th time in a row, the Miami Heat (26-8) managed to defeat the Toronto Raptors (16-16), this time by a final score of 102-97 in a very close game. 

Toronto held a 84-79 lead at the end of three quarters, but the Heat would open the fourth on a 7-0 run. They never trailed again.

Miami controlled the boards and created several second-chance opportunities, out-rebounding the Raptors 42-34 and 17-14 on the offensive glass.

Free-throw shooting was also a major issue for Toronto, missing nine of its 21 attempts from the charity stripe. That's especially surprising considering the team is shooting 78 percent on the season, which is sixth in the NBA

 

LeBron James, Small Forward

In previous matchup's against the Toronto Raptors, LeBron James usually had the 6'8" Rudy Gay defending him on offense. That won't be the case anymore after Gay was sent packing to the Sacramento Kings back in December. 

Toronto went with several different matchups, including DeMar DeRozan (26 points and seven assists) and Terrence Ross (eight points and one rebound), but no one was able to slow down the four-time league MVP.

The only luck the Raptors managed to have on defense was clogging the lane and preventing many easy baskets for James, who was forced to settle for quite a few jumpers, although he did hit a majority of them. 

His 30 points for the Heat was a game-high, shooting 12-of-18 from the field. He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists. 

Efficiency is the name of the game. The best player on the court won it for his team. 

Grade: A

 

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard

There was a real chance Dwyane Wade wasn't going to suit up for the Miami Heat prior to this game after playing the previous night in Orlando.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra has been very protective of his star shooting guard in order to preserve his knees throughout the season, but he was certainly happy to have him in the lineup and his short-term future, via Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report.

We're open-minded about it. As long as he's able to stick to his routine, and it's a very specific routine, of working out, strength training, conditioning and a lot of treatment. If he's able to do all those things and play, we're open to how he feels day to day.

Toronto had been playing fantastic basketball as of late, winning six games in a row. Wade made sure he was ready to go, despite playing for the second straight night. 

He wound up playing 34 minutes, so fatigue obviously wasn't a problem. He nearly earned himself a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Grade: B

 

Chris Bosh, Center

After shooting a perfect 9-of-9 for 20 points against Orlando on Saturday, Chris Bosh failed to carry over much of that momentum against Toronto.

In fact, he didn't score a single point until the eight-minute mark of the third quarter.

He was effective crashing the glass, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds, but Miami certainly could have used more offense from its big man to combat the efforts of Amir Johnson (17 points and eight rebounds) and Jonas Valanciunas (17 points and five rebounds).

Bosh's shooting was extremely inconsistent, but he managed to hit clutch free throws down the stretch and be a factor with his rebounding.

Grade: C+

 

Rashard Lewis, Power Forward

Shane Batter missed his second straight game with a quadriceps injury, so Rashard Lewis stepped in as the starting power forward once again.

The 16-year veteran battled foul trouble early in the first half, picking up three in just a little under nine minutes. His fourth came early in the third quarter, which didn't help matters either. 

The Heat were getting huge production from their bench, so Lewis' services weren't required for the rest of the night. 

He finished with just two points in 10 minutes for Miami.

Grade: F

 

Mario Chalmers, Point Guard

In 15 minutes, Mario Chalmers scored five points on 2-of-4 shooting, including one three-pointer. He also grabbed two rebounds and picked up two steals. 

He left the game with right Achilles tendinitis and never returned. 

Grade: Incomplete

 

Ray Allen, Sixth Man

Ray Allen's shot was not his friend on this night.

Playing in 25 minutes off the bench, Allen hit just one of his seven shot attempts for six points.

A lot of his misses came on shots he usually hits, whether they be corner three-pointers or shooting in transition. 

Grade: D

 

Bench

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The second unit for Miami was absolutely tremendous, scoring 42 of the Heat's 102 points.

Michael Beasley led the way with 17 points and four rebounds, although he didn't see the court again in the fourth quarter, which is odd considering how well he was playing and how close the score was.

Norris Cole played solid defense on Kyle Lowry as he attempted to tie the game at 100 apiece in the game's final seconds. 

Udonis Haslem showed signs of life with seven points and three rebounds. He also came up with a huge block on Lowry as he drove to the basket looking to draw contact late in the fourth. 

Chris Andersen had four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes, while Roger Mason's only three points of the game jump-started Miami's fourth-quarter rally. 

Grade: A 

 

What's Next?

The defending NBA champions have what appears to be a fairly straightforward week coming up against three teams with records below the .500 mark.

The New Orleans Pelicans visit the AmericanAirlines Arena on January 7. Miami will then hit the road for a back-to-back against two struggling Atlantic Division teams in the New York Knicks (January 9) and Brooklyn Nets (January 10). 

 

Follow NBA Featured Columnist/Live Blogger Christopher Walder on Twitter at @WalderSports.

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