NBA Playoffs: Wade to fire Miami Heat to series levelling win
Robbie Purves | May 13, 2016
Toronto Raptors @ Miami Heat
- NBA Conference semi-finals
- Saturday, May 14th
- Tipoff: 01:00 BST
- American Airlines Arena, Miami
Miami’s Wade to level series 3-3
Toronto Raptors are a victory away from making their first ever trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, after pipping Miami Heat 99–91 in game five to go 3–2 up in their semi-final series.
This is already the longest post-season in Raptors’ history, with Friday marking their 13th game of these playoffs. However, Heat aren’t a team with soft centre and will fight tooth and nail to remain in this series. The Miami franchise is a place where workaholics and perfectionists flourish, so expect the Floridian side to arrive immaculately prepared and drilled.
Heat are 7-1 in their last eight games when facing elimination, including 2-0 this season and possess real grit. The evergreen Dwyane Wade has averaged 29.33 points over the last three games, and is playing at a phenomenal level for a 34-year-old. Coral has the superstar 2/1 to score 25 or more in a Miami win.
Wade has been the side’s best player this series, and will need to continue this form if Heat are to level the series. What should buoy Erik Spoelstra’s side is the inconsistent form of Toronto’s star DeMar DeRozan. The guard scored 34 in his last outing, but registered a limp nine before hand.
DeMarre Carroll could be out with a wrist injury so the heavy responsibility of guarding Wade could fall to rookie Norman Powell, who has looked lost in the playoffs guarding his idol. Game six marks the eighth time in the Canadian team’s history the Raptors have had a close-out opportunity – they’ve won just two of these seven previous games.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors
- NBA Conference finals
- Tuesday, May 17th
- Tipoff: 02:00 BST
- Oracle Arena, Oakland
Warriors face tough battle in Oakland
This was supposed to be a battle between the league’s two heavyweights, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Golden State, who registered the greatest ever regular season with 73 wins, and San Antonio with their franchise record 67-victory season.
That was until Oklahoma City Thunder completely took apart the Spurs side, setting up an intriguing Conference Finals series against the Warriors.
The Warriors have taken just five games each to get past Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers – having to operate chucks of each series without the first ever unanimous MVP, Curry.
Golden State will progress in this series if Curry stays fit and is able to put in more reliable minutes. The Oakland outfit have progressed through two rounds because of their immense depth, in the MVP’s absence Klay Thompson picked up the scoring torch and lit up the court.
But Thunder are a different proposition, Thompson will need to be aggressive on both ends of the court to overcome Oklahoma’s 1-2 punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Despite many doubting coach Billy Donovan’s tactical nous, he won a series against the NBA’s greatest coach, Gregg Popovich. Donovan’s side now shows intelligence and understanding on what they do well, making a prospect of a hard fought series a reality.
Warriors are the hardest team to beat in the NBA, but pounding of their paint is often highlighted as a weakness. Thunder’s big man combination of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter allows the team to grab rebounds and recycle the ball superbly.
However, in the regular season Golden State swept Oklahoma 3-0, one of which featured Curry launching his famous 37-foot rainbow throw as the horn sounded.