THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MIAMI — Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ronny Turiaf will not play Wednesday night when the Miami Heat play host to the Toronto Raptors.
It will be the 14th game Wade has missed this season, mostly with a variety of injuries and more recently because of what the Heat are calling a "maintenance" program heading into post-season. Bosh will sit out for the fourth time, and Turiaf has been dealing with a sore hamstring for about a week.
Watch the Raptors-Heat game live on Sportsnet ONE with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT.
Wednesday’s game starts a run of six games in nine games to close the regular season for Miami, which plays host to Chicago on Thursday night in a game that could help eventually decide the top seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat haven’t had much trouble with the Toronto Raptors in recent years no matter who has been in the lineup, and they’ll seek an eighth straight victory in this series Wednesday night in Miami.
The Raptors haven’t beaten the Heat since a 111-103 victory Jan. 27, 2010 — when Chris Bosh scored 24 points while playing for Toronto.
Bosh scored 30 points in last month’s win over the Raptors, who have lost five of seven after falling 109-87 to Atlanta on Monday.
Toronto (22-40) beat the Hawks 102-86 on Sunday despite missing four players, but it couldn’t sweep the home-and-home series while again playing without a good chunk of their lineup.
Andrea Bargnani has missed the last five contests and Jose Calderon has been out the last three, including an 84-79 win over Boston on Friday.
DeMar DeRozan has averaged 22.3 points over his last three games, and he said the past two wins over playoff teams should give the Raptors confidence moving forward.
“It just shows that we can play with anybody,” DeRozan said. “Even if we’re down a man or two, we’ve got the ability to play with anybody in this league.”
DeRozan is averaging 25.0 points in his last five games versus Miami, scoring 28 in the most recent contest.
The Heat have won five straight and 10 of 13 over the Raptors in Miami.
Miami (43-17) pulled within 2 1/2 games of first-place Chicago with a 101-98 come-from-behind victory over New Jersey on Monday, as James scored the team’s final 17 points.
Wade sat out for the fourth time in nine games due to a nagging ankle injury, but the Heat improved to 12-1 this season without him.
James’ bucket with 51 seconds remaining gave Miami its first lead and he finished with 37 points, hearing chants of “MVP!” from the visiting crowd.
“No. 6, he was pretty good going down the stretch,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was sensational. Obviously, he made every big play offensively. That’s what an MVP does and we needed it at both ends. But also on a night like this, you can come up with a lot of excuses to not bring that type of performance, but that’s not the type of DNA he has inside of him.”
James is averaging 29.8 points in the 12 games he’s played that Wade has missed, and it’s unclear if Wade will be in the lineup Wednesday.
The Heat face the Bulls on Thursday, but James said Miami won’t be looking ahead.
“We want to win every last game to close it out,” James said. “We don’t want to lose again the rest of the season. Ultimately we can to continue to get better.”
James scored a career-high 56 points against Toronto on March 20, 2005, in a loss while playing for Cleveland. In two home games versus the Raptors since joining Miami, he’s averaged 34.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
He had 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting in a 95-89 home win Feb. 5 before scoring 26 points in the Heat’s 113-101 victory in Toronto on March 30.
Wade totalled 55 points in those games and has averaged 31.2 in his last 10 against the Raptors, though he missed two during Miami’s current run of seven straight wins in the series.