The Toronto Raptors disappointed in a game one for the second time during the 2015-16 NBA playoffs, allowing the Miami Heat to enter Air Canada Centre and get a win. Just like that, the 2-seed Raptors are trailing to start their second consecutive playoff series, and this time it’s possible they never rebound to stave their opponent off in a game seven.

Miami was the aggressor for most of game one and even a miracle three-pointer by Kyle Lowry to force overtime couldn’t save the Raptors. Lowry showed up for that one play, but has otherwise been lifeless for most of Toronto’s playoff run, one that has seen DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valancunas do much of the heavy lifting on offense. Should that continue to be the case and Lowry keeps up his ghost act, the favored Raptors may quickly fall apart.

There are other factors to consider, of course. Let’s take a look at Thursday night’s lone NBA post-season matchup and see which way bettors may want to lean:

Miami Heat (3) @ Toronto Raptors (2)

Line: Raptors -4.5 Total: 189

The skinny here is that the Raptors have become tough to trust. Their round one series win went further than it should have and even their game seven win over the Pacers saw them almost cough up the series. A win is a win, but Toronto got their first series win since 2001, which is both comforting and also scary. Needless to say, for as many veterans as this team has, they are not used to winning in the playoffs. Miami, meanwhile, has the seasoned Dwyane Wade, along with other playoff vets like Joe Johnson and Luol Deng. Guys like Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic give them an interesting lift as talented, impactful options that clearly want to do their part in pushing the Heat further down the playoff tourney tree.

The question is, can Miami strike now and take a commanding 2-0 lead, or will the Raptors show life at home and tie this series back up, much like they did against Indiana in round one?

One thing I think we can all agree on is that if Toronto comes up short again tonight, this series is probably over. It’s not often that teams storm back from 2-0 holes, and even when they do, the team that goes up 2-0 usually still closes the series in the seventh game.

The good news for the Raptors is that they showed fight in a game one loss and they’ve dealt with their backs being against the wall already in these playoffs. They’re rather stout at home, too (32-9 during the regular season) and specifically had success against Miami during the regular season (won the season series, 3-1). That doesn’t necessarily equate to a game two win tonight, but it can’t hurt that they know they can’t afford to lose and both Wade and Whiteside aren’t quite 100%. Both are slated to play, but with them at less than full strength, Toronto knows they’ll have a mild edge.

Miami did their part here, too. The Heat’s goal was to come out and open the series strong. Getting just one road win already gives them the edge in the series. Winning game two would put their odds over the top, but going back to South Beach at 1-1 still puts them out in front with two straight home games to be played. So, are we to assume Miami is tired and gets a little complacent? Or does that even matter against a Raptors team that seemingly is getting uncomfortably used to disappointing NBA bettors?

If the NBA regular season tells us anything, we probably can’t give up on the Raptors just yet. They are a headache and annoying, but they still were above .500 against the spread on the year, fared well against Miami and usually get the job done at home. Losing game one was a bummer and could be deflating, but it’s possible Miami is enduring their own deflating moment right now, too.

With news that big man Chris Bosh has officially been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, the Heat now know there won’t be a calvalry coming. They are who they are, as they stand, and if they’re going to get to the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ll have to accept and embrace that.

All speculation aside, this is a must-win game for the Raptors at home. The series is over if they don’t get it done, so the safe bet is them coming out hot on both ends and making sure this one is never really in doubt. We should probably brace for a low-scoring, defensive battle, or at least a one-sided affair. All of that likely equates to Toronto covering and puts an onus on the Under if you’re betting on the Total tonight.

Pick: Raptors 98, Heat 87

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