Winner: Miami Heat
Offense (Heat): The Miami Heat's offense is lead by the dynamic duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Butler is a fantastic 3-level scorer, but he is also a very underrated facilitator as he is averaging 20.3 points and 6.1 assists per game. Bam Adebayo is your typical inside the three-point line center. He is a 7.7% three-point shooter and the Raptors will be looking to exploit that by using Marc Gasol as an extra help defender. Like Butler, Adebayo is also an underrated facilitator as he averages 5.1 assists to go with his 16.3 points per game. Both of these players share the duty of bringing the ball up the court because they are the best passers in the starting lineup.
The Toronto Raptors have an amazing defense, so the Heat will have to rely on their role players to get the job done. Kendrick Nunn is an undrafted rookie who is having a breakout season. He is very strong for being a 6'3" guard and uses that to his advantage as he averages 15.6 points per game. Duncan Robinson is one of the best shooters in the NBA. The Heat runs a lot of plays to get him open. Look for them to get Robinson open for a three on the first play of the game. If he is on, the Heat will be tough to stop. Goran Dragic is 34 years old but is still extremely underrated as a scorer and as a facilitator as he is averaging 16 points and 5.1 assists per game in the 6th man role. Their role players are the reason why they are 1st in the league in three points percentage with Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, and Andre Iguodala all shooting over 38% percent from three. If one of these players gets hot, it could get ugly for the Raptors.
Defense (Heat): Like the offense, the defense is led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The latter is one of the only players in the NBA to average at least 1 block and 1 steal per game. Jimmy Butler is one of the best on-ball defensive players in the league as he averages 1.7 steals per game. Jae Crowder is also a great on-ball defender as he averages 1.5 steals per game They are top 10 in many defensive categories because of these three players. Outside of these three and Andre Iguodala (1.1 SPG and 2.1 BPG per 36), no one else on the team sticks out as an elite defender. They play great defense as a team and that shows. In the 2 times they've played, the Raptors are shooting 35% from the field and 20% from three. That will end up being the difference in this game.
Offense (Raptors): Like the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors have a dynamic duo that consists of 2 all-stars. Kyle Lowry is a scrappy, veteran guard who is the main facilitator who averages 20 points and 7.6 assists per game. Pascal Siakam had a breakout year and took the role of the lead scorer without Kawhi Leonard as he averaged 23.5 points per game. The Raptors run a lot of pick and rolls with Lowry and Siakam because of Lowry's passing skills and IQ and Siakam's ability to finish at the rim.
The Raptors have one of the most slept on players in the NBA in Fred VanVleet. He averages 17.5 points and 6.5 assists per game and forms one of the league's shortest backcourts with Kyle Lowry. The Raptors also rank in the top 5 of the NBA in three-point percentage. Like the Heat, they have tons of players who shoot over 38% from 3. Terence Davis, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet all shoot over 38%. Where the Heat has the advantage is they have 4 players who shoot over 40% from 3 where the Raptors have 0.
Defense (Raptors): The Toronto Raptors have one of the best defenses in the league. They are first in the league in points allowed and that is the main reason they have been able to keep winning without Kawhi Leonard. Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam all rank in the top 20 in defensive efficiency. Fred VanVleet ranks 4th in the NBA in steals per game with 1.9. The Raptors overall are a very scrappy team that should not be overlooked as title contenders. On 8/1 they shut down the Lakers offense and held LeBron James and Anthony Davis to 20 and 14 points on a combined 9 of 22 from the field. The percentage is not awful, but Anthony Davis only took 7 of those which is 11 less than his season average. This is going to be a game where both teams score under 100 points and it is going to come down to who gets hot at the right time.
X-Factor: Duncan Robinson
Duncan Robinson is the perfect example of a great story. He started off college in Division III, and then transferred to Michigan. At Michigan, he was known best as a shooter who shot about 42% from 3 in his 3 years at Michigan. He was undrafted in the NBA but was on the Heat's summer league team, where he caught the eye of head coach Erik Spoelstra. Robinson signed a two-way contract and played in 15 NBA games where he didn't do much. Fast-forward to 2020 and he is one of the best shooters in the NBA, shooting 44.7% from 3 and ranking 7th in the NBA in true shooting percentage as a shooting guard and is the only guard in the top 9 of that category. The Miami Heat are 8-2 when Robinson scores over 20 points. If he gets hot, the Raptors could be in trouble.
Who do you think will win? Let me know in the comments!