Raptors and Heat to battle in Game 7, with Cavaliers waiting in the wings

Raptors and Heat to battle in Game 7, with Cavaliers waiting in the wings
A free agent after earning $20 million this season. Outlook: The question could come down to whether there is another big-money short-term deal or dollars spread out over a longer term. (Alan Diaz / Associated Press)

History is going to happen.

Either Toronto or Miami will become the 15th NBA team to win two Game 7s in the same postseason. The Raptors could go to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time. The Heat have a shot at being the first team ever to erase 3-2 deficits in consecutive playoff series.


And if that wasn't enough, LeBron James awaits the winner in the East finals.

The stage is set, the stakes are super-high. The final second-round game of this year's playoffs is Sunday afternoon in Toronto, where the Raptors and Heat will play Game 7 and finally decide their back-and-forth, black-and-blue series. The winner will join Golden State, Oklahoma City and Cleveland as the four teams left standing in the chase for the NBA championship.

"This is why we're in this business, to be pushed and tested and challenged," Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. "There's no greater challenge than a Game 7."

The Heat fended off elimination Friday, going with a super-small lineup and beating the Raptors, 103-91, in Miami to force a winner-take-all game. Miami won a Game 7 in the first round, topping Charlotte at home. Toronto also successfully defended home-court in a first-round Game 7 against Indiana.

Waiting game

Even Coach Tyronn Lue came off the floor sweating Saturday.

Don't think for a second the Cleveland Cavaliers have been lounging around the past week as they've waited for their next opponent.

"Guys have been really busting their butt in the gym," forward Channing Frye said as beads of perspiration streaked the sides of his face.

Unblemished and seemingly unstoppable through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Cavaliers will open the Eastern Conference finals at home Tuesday against either the Heat or the Raptors.

Cleveland hasn't played since May 8, when it completed its second consecutive postseason sweep, ousting an Atlanta Hawks team that was grounded by the Cavaliers' battalion of three-point marksmen. The Cavaliers made 77 three-pointers in four games, and they're hoping the long break between series won't cool off their shooting touch.

To combat any rust, Lue has made sure his team worked on its conditioning. They've been running and lifting and lifting and running.