(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the Eastern Conference's best teams jump it up Monday night when the Miami Heat welcome the Toronto Raptors to AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat, who have clinched another Southeast Division title, have won two straight and open a five-game homestand Monday night. Due the Indiana Pacers' struggles of late, Miami has inched within a game for Eastern Conference supremacy.
The Heat went 2-1 on a recent road trip and the victories came after Wednesday's hard-fought loss to the Indiana Pacers. Miami closed with lopsided wins over the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks.
"Great trip. Sucked on Wednesday. We wanted that one," said LeBron James. "But it was a great trip overall the way we bounced back with all the adversity as far as guys being out of the lineup."
After a 32-point, 110-78 victory in Detroit on Friday night, the Heat squashed the Bucks, 88-67, on Saturday. Those were the two lowest point totals allowed this season by Miami.
The Heat played without Dwyane Wade (hamstring), Mario Chalmers (bruised quad), Greg Oden (back spasms) and Ray Allen (flu) for the second game in a row.
Chris Bosh had 14 points and James scored 13 for the Heat. Toney Douglas and Rashard Lewis also scored 13 for the Heat, while James Jones chipped in 10 points.
The Heat host the Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets on this residency.
The Raptors, the Atlantic Division leaders, have won three straight and four of their last five. Toronto has won two consecutive road games and starts a rough stretch Monday with home games against the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers after the South Beach visit.
On Sunday, the Raptors bested the Orlando Magic, 98-93.
The Magic trailed 96-93 with 8.9 seconds on the clock when Maurice Harkless failed to inbound the ball in time, resulting in a five-second violation.
DeMar DeRozan netted a pair from the line to seal the outcome for Toronto after the call. DeRozan finished with 28 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 20 points and nine rebounds and Kyle Lowry scored 16 to keep the Raptors 2 1/2 games ahead of the Nets for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Raptors nearly squandered a 21-point lead, but held on for the critical victory.
"They saw the 20-point lead and like any NBA team, they let their guard down," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. "That's a development we've got to have, to keep the intensity, keep your foot on their neck and keep it down."
The Heat have won 14 straight against the Raptors and eight in a row as the host in this series.