Goran Dragic scored a postseason career-high 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 22 and the Miami Heat’s small starting lineup came up huge in a 103-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, tying their Eastern Conference semifinal series, 3-3.
Joe Johnson had 13 points, Justise Winslow added 12, and Josh McRoberts scored 10 for the Heat.
Kyle Lowry scored 36 points for Toronto, on 12-for-27 shooting from the field. DeMar DeRozan added 23 for the Raptors, but their teammates combined to shoot 14 of 34 for 32 points.
Game 7 is Sunday in Toronto. The winner will head to Cleveland for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.
Dragic shot 12 of 21 from the field, Wade blocked a game-high three shots and the Heat — despite some serious size deficiencies with injured starting center Hassan Whiteside still out — only lost the rebounding battle by two, 43-41.
Neither team divulged its starting lineup until warmups were underway. The Heat had reason for subterfuge, after choosing a super-small starting five of Dragic, Wade, Johnson, Luol Deng and Winslow.
The results? Splendid for Miami.
The Heat used eight players — the tallest being McRoberts at 6-foot-10. The average height of the others was just under 6-6.
Deng jumped center and Winslow got his first playoff start, three games after not playing in Game 3. The Heat like using the term “positionless basketball” and Winslow epitomized it early — in a 60-second span, the rookie guarded Raptors center Bismack Biyombo, brought the ball up like a point guard and made a three-pointer from the corner.
Both teams sputtered early, shooting a combined 37% in the first quarter. The Heat got going in the second, Dragic shooting six for seven for a 14-point quarter and sending Miami into the locker room with a 53-44 edge.
The lead got to 13 in the third, Dragic again coming up big with a three-point play followed by a step-back jumper. And when Toronto got within six early in the fourth, Dragic and Wade scored the next six points to keep Miami in control.