Raptors get little time to do 'homework' on Heat

The Toronto Raptors had little time to celebrate their playoff win over the Indiana Pacers. They left the Air Canada Centre with homework on the Miami Heat.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey told the players they had until midnight Sunday to savour the hard-fought seven-game series win over the Pacers. Given the game ended just after 10:30 p.m., it was an abridged celebration before switching focus to Miami.

"We've got to go from exhaling to 100 hundred miles an hour real quick," said Casey, who pronounced himself "happy for a minute" after finally beating Indiana.

The message appears to have got through.

"As soon as I got back to my apartment, I started looking over the scouting report and the playbooks for them," said Raptors rookie Norman Powell.

"I started reading the book last night," said guard Kyle Lowry.

The turnaround was almost as quick for the Heat, who dispatched the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon and flew north the next day.

The Raptors weren't much interested in an Indiana post-mortem Monday.

"It's something that we did, it's over with. We've got to prepare for Round 2," said Lowry.

"I'm focused on the Heat," he added several times.

'It's a different challenge' 

The all-star guard did share his thoughts on facing Miami star Dwyane Wade after playing Pacers marquee man Paul George.

"Paul shot the ball well. He shoots jump-shots a lot, he takes threes, he's physical. But D-Wade is just shifty. He's Dwyane Wade, he's a Hall of Famer," Lowry said with a chuckle. "PG might get there. I think he will one day ... he has the talent to get there. But D-Wade is a Hall of Famer. It's a different challenge."

The 34-year-old Wade has played in 159 post-season games, more than three times that of the Toronto franchise (18-31 in the post-season).

Growing up, Powell says he modelled his game on Wade. "I've been watching him all my life so I'm looking forward for the challenge," he said.

Powell played just four minutes 38 seconds against the Heat this season but was quickly noticed by Wade.

"As soon as I checked in, he looked at me and looked at coach [Erik] Spoelstra and they ran a post-up for him," said Powell. "So I know he's going to see me as a rookie and [think] that he can take advantage. So I'm just going to try and make it as difficult as possible for him."

'More for me to accomplish'

Powell is literally living the dream, watching his role expand in the playoffs thanks to some gritty defence and timely offence.

"But I know there's still much more for me to accomplish, much more for me to prove. I still have a big chip on my shoulder in proving a lot of people wrong," said the second-round draft pick who was taken 46th overall. "And that's what driving me."

Casey likes what he sees in Powell.

"I'm proud of him, the way he's played, produced. He's met the challenge. The moment hasn't been too big for him ... it's a big leap from UCLA to the NBA playoffs," he said.

The Heat series marks Toronto's first trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals since 2001 when it lost in seven to Philadelphia.

Toronto (56-26) is the second seed in the East while Miami (48-34) is No. 3.

Miami remains without 11-time all-star — and former Raptor — Chris Bosh, who missed the final 29 games of the regular season after a blood clot was found in his left calf.

Bosh, who averaged 19.1 points a game this season, was not on the Miami team flight but could still be in Toronto to cheer on the team Tuesday.

Without Bosh, Miami is smaller and quicker — more efficient offensively but still excellent defensively, according to Casey.

Miami — and Bosh — once owned the Raptors.

Containing Joe Johnson

Prior to a 102-92 loss in Toronto on March 13, 2015, the Heat had won 16 straight against the Raptors. Toronto's last victory before that was Jan. 27, 2010, when Bosh played for the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan was a rookie.

The Raptors have gone 4-1 against the Heat since ending that streak. They won three of four this season with DeRozan, Toronto's other all-star, scoring 30 or more three times. He averaged 29.3 points a game against Miami, above his season average of 23.5.

Veteran guard Joe Johnson, who signed with Miami in February, led the Heat with 28 points in their most recent meeting with the Raptors. The 34-year-old former all-star has averaged 18.7 points a game in his career against Toronto, second only to his 19.5 average against Portland.

And in Hassan Whiteside, the Heat have a seven-footer whose 24 blocks in the Charlotte series erased Alonzo Mourning's club record of 21 for a seven-game series.

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