Raptors-Heat Preview

The high-powered Miami Heat may not be off to a flying start

with their superstar trio, but it’s clear that the Toronto Raptors

are a different team without Chris Bosh.

Bosh will face his former team for the first time Saturday night

when the Heat try to avoid a third straight loss as they host the

Raptors.

Miami (5-4) transformed the landscape of the NBA by adding

LeBron James and Bosh, but the results have been mixed to this

point. The Heat have dropped two straight at home and are in third

place in the Southeast Division.

“I think when you lose two in a row early on, I think everybody

is expecting us to panic,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’m sure the

outside perception is in a panic right now. And that’s the most

important thing for us right now – to stay together as a group.

Bosh is averaging 14.8 points – his lowest mark since his second

season with Toronto (2-7) – and a career-low 6.0 rebounds. The

five-time All-Star forward is the Raptors’ all-time leader in

points (10,275), rebounds (4,776) and blocks (600) after they

selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft.

He feels he is having trouble adjusting on the defensive end of

the court, and that’s why his rebounding has been poor with

Miami.

“I just have to know my role and keep working at it,” Bosh said.

“Just watch a lot of film and get back in the play sometimes and be

able to rebound from where I am instead of just trying to stay

under the basket all the time and wait till it comes my way. I have

to be aggressive and move a little bit more.”

The Raptors are clearly having trouble replacing their top

scorer and rebounder, although they ended a six-game skid with a

surprising 110-106 victory at Orlando on Friday. Andrea Bargnani

led the Raptors with 27 points, but Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan

made the key plays.

Weems made a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left.

DeRozan scored 26, including four free throws that sealed the

win.

“I think we put everything together, played a full 48 minutes

tonight,” DeRozan said. “We want to prove how good we really are

and our record doesn’t show it, but when you go out and prove it,

it’s a whole other story.”

The Heat had Friday off after a 112-107 loss to Boston the

previous night. Dwyane Wade made 2 of 12 shots for a season-low

eight points after averaging 30.5 over his previous four games.

“Of course people are smiling and feeling good about our 5-4

start and as well as they should be,” Wade said. “The Heat haters,

that’s fine. But as long as we continue to get our support from our

fans and in here, we’ll be fine.”

James is second on the team in scoring with a 22.2 average, tied

for second with Bosh in rebounding and tops in assists (8.7 per

game). The two-time reigning MVP, though, is shooting 44.0 percent

– his lowest mark since his 2003-04 rookie season.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” James said. “I knew it

wouldn’t just be a bed of roses stepping into this situation. But I

came here for the challenge.”

Miami has won three of the last five meetings with Toronto after

losing the previous six.