An interesting twist in the playoff series between the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat are the injuries to the centers of both teams, Jonas Valanciunas & Hassan Whiteside, although Dwyane Wade warming up and shooting while the Canadian anthem was playing seems to be stealing the spotlight from everyone.
Game 3 of the series between the Heat and the Raptors reintroduced Kyle Lowry to the series, scoring 33 points, shooting 11-for-19 from the field, including five three-pointers. But the injuries of Valanciunas and Whiteside might be the biggest things to take from the game, Whiteside now out with an MCL sprain and Valanciunas, who has had the edge in the battle of centers in this series, out indefinitely as well with a sprained right ankle.
This is worse news for the Raptors. They don’t have a backup center who can score. Bismack Biyombo is a good defensive player, but this simply puts more pressure on the Raptors to get their points from Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Maybe Lowry has turned a corner, but perhaps the other eight games he has played in this postseason, barely shooting over 30% from the field, mean a lot more. DeRozan himself hasn’t really had that one breakout game in which he shoots well and looks like a trustworthy, efficient offensive option.
But something that has more to do with class and respect captured the minds of people after the game, which ended 95-91 in the Raptors favor, taking a 2-1 lead in the series. While the Canadian anthem was playing, Wade was shown ignoring the whole ceremonial aspect and constantly shooting, carrying on with his pregame warmup like nothing was happening. Amare Stoudemire, who means a lot less to the Heat and this series in general, was also ignoring everything around him, helping Wade warm up his shots.
Does Wade get suspended? It’ll be interesting to see if the gravity of his offense, but also the point of the season we’re in, and also him simply being Wade, will matter. Someone won’t be happy with the decision taken by the NBA. However, if the league has suspended players before for ignoring anthems and regards it as a mandatory moment of paying respect, Wade, regardless of his stature in the league and on the Heat, should be suspended for his disrespectful behavior.
A series without two true big men will be very different, as it simply calls for small ball almost all the time, which should give the Heat an edge thanks to their Dragic-Johnson-Wade-Deng factor. But despite all the criticism they’ve been facing, the Raptors have constantly found ways to win through what some might refer to as ugliness. Not having one of their more efficient players on the floor for the rest of this series might force them even more down that road to beat a Heat team that’s been getting used to less and less Whiteside on their offense the deeper they’ve gotten into the playoffs.