It finally happened. The Toronto Raptors, for the first time in franchise history, advanced into the Eastern Conference Finals and will face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the right to represent the East in the NBA Finals. They did so by crushing the Miami Heat in Toronto in their Game 7 matchup, 116-89.
As usual, both sides came out and shot very poorly in the first — Toronto finished at 42%, Miami was at 41%, and the Raptors held a 25-24 lead. DeMar DeRozan attempted 12 of the Raptors’ 19 shots in the quarter and finished with 11 points, and also added five rebounds. Kyle Lowry, who came up big down the stretch, finished with four points, and DeMarre Carroll had six. Luol Deng led Miami’s offense with eight points, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow both had six, and Dwyane Wade attempted just two shots and tallied two points.
The second quarter was much of the same for Toronto, except Kyle Lowry exploded for 12 points and gave them a 28-23 edge in scoring. Lowry was 3/4 from the field, including 2/2 from three, and bucketed four of his six attempts at the foul line. Outside of him, his teammates shot just 6/18 from the field. Miami’s efficiency saw an increase in the second as they connected on 56% of their shots en route to their 23 points. Wade and Joe Johnson each had eight and shot seven-of-nine from the field. Going into halftime, the Raptors held a 53-47 lead.
For what seemed like the first time in the series both DeRozan and Lowry were effective in the third. They carried Toronto to a 33-point quarter by combining for 23 points on 9/16 shooting. Lowry was the leader with 12 and also managed to dish out four assists during his time on the floor. Miami had an outstanding quarter themselves and finished with 31 points on 53% shooting. All five of their starters recorded four points or more, and they were led by Winslow’s seven; he added five rebounds as well. Going into the final quarter of the series, the Raptors held onto their lead, 86-78.
In the fourth quarter, Miami collapsed and everything went wrong for them. They shot a dreadful percentage from the floor, 23%, and mustered just 11 points on 13 shot attempts. They also committed six turnovers that Toronto got six points out of, and their defense was almost non-existent. Despite shooting just 43.5% from the field, Toronto put up 30 points in the frame with Bismack Biyombo leading the way with eight. They netted seven of their 11 free throws and pounded the Heat on both backboards — seven offensive rebounds, eight defensive.
All five of the Raptors’ starters scored 11 points or more, led by Kyle Lowry, who had another scintillating performance: 35 points on 11/20 from the field, nine assists, seven rebounds, and four steals. Lowry’s fellow east all-star, DeRozan, finished with 28 points and eight rebounds, and Biyombo registered a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Wade and Dragic were Miami’s leading scorers and had 16 apiece.
Game 1 of the East Finals is Tuesday, May 17, at 8:30 PM EST in Cleveland.