Game number two of the Rudy Gay era in Toronto. The Miami Heat come into town to face the Toronto Raptors who won their first game with their new acquisition at the wing. If the matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers wasn’t a good enough test for what this team can do, the Heat will definitely bring the challenge. The last time these teams met the Raptors brought the defending champs to overtime, but fell short. All eyes will be on the head to head between LeBron James and Rudy Gay this afternoon; hopefully LeBron’s mind stays on the Superbowl.
The Cage’s 5 Key’s to the game
1. Young Legs, Run!
With the acquisition of Rudy Gay, the dynamics of the Raptors team has changed drastically. We now have an abundance of wing players, and an offence the works on paint penetration. The Heat are a team that have the ability to run, but when the bench comes in, age becomes a factor. The spacing on the court is more open by having a quality threat from the wing.
2. Lead By Example?
Like I said, all eyes will be on the matchup between Rudy Gay and LeBron James. Rudy said in an interview that he plans to lead this team by his play on the court. What better test than going 1-on-1 with LeBron James all afternoon. With the Heat now equipped to play small ball, the Raptors will likely see Gay playing the power forward. Let’s see how the new face of the franchise faces this challenge.
3. Get on the Glass
The Miami Heat are not an overly large team. Based on their efforts in the playoffs last year, they have transitioned into the modern NBA electing to go with smaller lineups. The Raptors need to take advantage of their length, and size and dictate the battle of the boards in order to control the outcome of this game. If the Raptors are able to limit Miami’s second chance points, the Raptors put themselves in a much better position to win this game.
4. Don’t Sleep
The Heat have a number of 3-point specialists just waiting to come off the bench. If the Raptors aren’t conscious of their rotations, the corner three pointer will eat our transition defence alive. Do the names Ray Allen and Shane Battier mean anything to you?
5. Every Possession Counts
The Raptors are playing one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. In order for them to stay in this game, the Raptors must make sure they execute on every possession. Mario Chalmers plays stingy defence and is capable of forcing turnovers to get the Heat going, so Kyle Lowry and John Lucas need to be responsible.
The Raptors Cage X-Factor for tonight’s game against the Heat is Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas. Although it’s only his second game back, his length and consistent effort can cause problems for the Miami front court. If he can get a few early dunks and get his confidence going, he can be a game changer today.
Photo Cred: (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)