NBA Basketball

Surging Heat return home to face Raptors

The Miami Heat, who play host to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, may have found their groove after a slow start to their season.

Miami, which made it to the NBA Finals last year after bonding in the playoff bubble, has won three straight games, all on the road.

"It felt like the bubble again where we got a chance to be cohesive," Heat center Bam Adebayo said of Miami's win streak. "When we're at home, we can't really hang out with each other.

"But, being in the bubble, being able to be safe in the hotel, we got better. It feels like we're brothers again."

The Heat are still three games under .500 at 14-17, and they may have to again play without Tyler Herro (hip injury) and Goran Dragic (ankle).

Herro is Miami's third-leading scorer (16.9). Dragic is Miami's fifth-leading scorer (14.4). Together, they also combine for 9.1 assists per game.

Dragic has missed nine straight games, and Herro was out on Monday, when the Heat finished its road trip with a 108-94 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both Dragic and Herro are listed as questionable for the Raptors game.

But even without Dragic, Herro, as well as Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard -- who are both out longer term -- the Heat have shown they have enough firepower to win big games, such as their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Adebayo leads Miami in scoring (19.6), rebounds (9.5) and blocks (1.0). Jimmy Butler averages 19.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, a team-high 7.6 assists and a team-high 1.8 steals.

Meanwhile, the Raptors, who won the NBA title in 2019, are also off to a mediocre start. They fell to 16-16 with their 109-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at Tampa.

Philadelphia ended Toronto's four-game win streak by burning the Raptors with 44.7 percent 3-point shooting.

While the Raptors frequently double-teamed 76ers star post player Joel Embiid, the 76ers lit it up from deep, going 17-for-38.

"I should have run a better rotation scheme," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Let's leave it at that."

The Raptors played a fourth straight game without guard Kyle Lowry, who has a sprained left thumb.

Norman Powell led the Raptors with 24 points, and Pascal Siakam added 22.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who was left off the All-Star Game reserves roster in the day, had 12 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a game-high eight assists.

VanVleet's exclusion from the showcase left the Raptors without an All-Star this season, which disappointed Nurse.

"I take nothing away from the guys who made it," Nurse said, "but Fred is playing his guts out."

Adebayo and Butler also got snubbed, leaving Miami without an All-Star for the first time since 2017. Both were All-Stars last year, but Miami's losing record for much of this season had to hurt their chances.

"It's important," Adebayo had said before the announcement was made. "I want to be an All-Star. Two-time All-Star doesn't sound bad. But it's politics in there."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 24, 2021

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