For whatever it’s worth, the Toronto Raptors played the Miami Heat four times during the regular season, winning three of them. In fact, they won the final three games of the season series, with Jonas Valanciunas having varying degrees of success.
The 23-year-old Lithuanian averaged a solid 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in three games against Miami, but those numbers were bolstered by a 20-point, 10-board effort in a 112-104 home win over the Heat on March 12.
Valanciunas’ play could go a long way in deciding Toronto’s upcoming playoff series with Miami, especially when it comes to battling fellow 7-footer Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 13.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks against Charlotte.
“We all know the regular season is so different from the postseason,” Raptors TV play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Valanciunas played well, but he wasn’t as dominant as you’d like to see on the glass – and a lot of that is because of Whiteside and his length. That can be very disturbing when you’re trying to go up. He had that advantage against Indiana.”
Valanciunas averaged 13.6 points, 11.9 boards and 1.4 blocks against the Pacers. While Ian Mahinmi is a solid post defender, he’s no Whiteside, who is the premier shot-blocker in the NBA.
“The question is, can Whiteside stay out of foul trouble?” Devlin asked. “How is that going to keep DeMar DeRozan out of the paint, with the idea that Whiteside is going to be on the inside. Jonas has been very good in the pick and roll game as far as from the offensive standpoint.”
Devlin is excited to see the chess match between Erik Spoelstra and Dwane Casey.
“I think that first game is going to be so much about both coaches trying to see exactly how the other one’s going to play each other,” Devlin said. “For the Raptors, they actually changed their starting lineup a couple of times throughout the course of the first round. They put back in DeMarre Carroll. I expect him to continue to start. And then they made the adjustment of putting Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup for the last two game of the series. Do they decide to go back to Luis Scola because it’s a different sort of matchup? He had the younger Myles Turner to deal with, who’s going to be a great player in this league.”
Turner, 20, averaged 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks against Toronto.
“He had a great series,” Devlin said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what Dwane decides to do (in Game 1 on Tuesday). Does he put Scola back in the staring lineup? I’m intrigued to see how all of it actually unfolds with respect to the matchup.”
Tip-off is at 8 p.m. ET.