If you’re looking at past stats and trends, you’d think the Toronto Raptors are a shoo-in to knock the Miami Heat out of the playoffs on Friday. But if you’re even somewhat familiar with the Raptors, you know they never make things easy on themselves. That’s what makes tonight’s Game 6 such a toss up for sports bettors.
Toronto, who owns a 3-2 series lead, takes its talents back to South Beach coming off a huge 99-91 victory north of the border. The Raps already lost star big man Jonas Valanciunas for the series due to an ankle injury, and DeMarre Carroll was forced to leave in Game 5 but has stated he will not miss any time.
Entering the playoffs, teams that have gotten out to a 3-2 series lead have gone on to win the series 86 percent of the time. When you include homecourt advantage, that number gets bumped up to 93 percent.
The Heat already came back from a 3-2 deficit to defeat the Charlotte Hornets in the Sportsbook round, but they’ll be hard pressed to do it again. No team has ever accomplished that feat twice in the same playoffs.
But this is no ordinary franchise. Since Dwyane Wade was drafted in 2003, the Heat are 7-1 in their last eight games when facing elimination. Only two East teams have won two games at Miami in the same series when Wade has been in the fold.
The Dinos are set to make some history of their own. Toronto is playing in its 13th playoff game – the most ever for the squad. The Raptors’ previous mark was 12, which was set back in 2001 when Vince Carter was electrifying audiences with highlight reel dunks.
Toronto’s underwhelming playoff history is well known. Opposing fans and pundits around the league have long labeled the Raptors as chokers, and their 1-4 all-time record in road close out chances won’t help their cause.
I’m staying away from betting this game myself, as a litany of ugly basketball, injuries and outright luck have dictated this series. Do you think the Heat can mount a historic comeback, or will the Raptors fold when the stakes are at their highest again?