Both the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors took their respective courts for Game 7 matchups against Charlotte and Indiana. Both teams advanced and will face each other in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but both won their games in complete opposite fashions. The Heat were firing on all cylinders and crushed the Hornets 106-73; the Raptors offense wasn’t as fortunate, but their defense stepped up big time and sealed their 89-84 victory.
Heat v. Hornets
Charlotte was relatively competitive in the first half against the Heat, but nothing to write home about as they trailed 54-42 at the intermission. The team managed to shoot 17/40 (42.5%), and Courtney Lee gave them some much-needed offense with 11 points on 5/5 shooting. Kemba Walker, who was averaging 25 points per game through the first six, had just two points on 1/6 shooting in the first half.
Goran Dragic was incredibly clutch for Miami, and his 17 points helped them jump out to their halftime lead. Luol Deng, who had a marvelous series, continued his solid play with nine points on 4/6 shooting in the half. Not only did the Heat play great defense and limit Charlotte’s makes, they relentlessly attacked the glass and had a 27-17 advantage on the boards.
The Hornets had an excruciatingly painful third quarter on offense, and it was enough to seal their playoff fate. On just 5/24 shooting (21%), Charlotte had 11 points. Miami had 29. Dragic kept his hand hot and pumped in eight more points as the Heat connected on 57% of their shot attempts. Hassan Whiteside had a fabulous quarter with six points, six rebounds, and four blocks.
Dragic had a game-high 25 points on 11/17 shooting, Gerald Green had 16 off the bench, and Whiteside had a double-double with ten points, 12 boards, and five blocks. Frank Kaminsky was Charlotte’s leading scorer with 12, and Walker mustered just nine points.
Raptors v. Pacers
The Raptors and Pacers game was far more entertaining and came down to the very end. Up through halftime, Toronto held a 50-44 lead thanks to DeMar DeRozan‘s 15 points, and Norman Powell‘s 10 — Powell erupted for all of his points in the second, and played excellent defense against whoever he matched up against, including Paul George.
After shooting just 39% in the third, Toronto was able to extend their lead even further as they outscored the Pacers 28-20, and held a 78-64 lead. DeRozan, despite his inefficiency, was tremendously aggressive and accounted for 13 points on 4/12 shooting. PG was virtually neutralized and connected on just one of his four shots and finished with three points.
It got really dicey for the Raptors in the fourth as they nearly succumbed to the pressure of Game 7. George (6), Monta Ellis (5), and George Hill (5) contributed 16 of Indiana’s 20 points and reeked absolute havoc on defense. The Raptors struggled to get into any sets on offense and it nearly cost them the game. And when they were able to get into sets, they couldn’t finish their possessions and shot 4/20 for the quarter with just 11 points.
Ellis was able to make it a one-possession game when he hit a three with 2:36 left, making the score 85-82 in favor of the Raptors. Kyle Lowry, who wasn’t able to get anything rolling on offense, hit one of the game’s biggest buckets as he beat his man off the dribble and finished a layup with a little over two minutes to play.
With about 15 seconds left and the score 87-84, DeRozan got away with what looked like a slight push on Ian Mahinmi as he went up to catch a lob pass from Paul George. DeMar corralled the rebound, nearly traveled as he crossed halfcourt, and iced the series with two free throws.
DeRozan came up huge in a huge game, no question. He shot very poorly, 10/32, but his 30 points accounted for more than a third of Toronto’s offense. Lowry, who will definitely look to leave his struggles in the past, had 11 points on just 5/14 shooting.
Paul George had another big game and dropped 26 points and 12 rebounds. George Hill hit some big shots down the stretch and finished the contest with 19 on 8/11 shooting.
Game 1 between these teams is set for Tuesday, May 3, at 8:00 PM EST in Toronto.