Raptors outlast Heat 116-89, reach first-ever Eastern Conference Finals

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This isn’t a Toronto Raptors team known for holding playoff leads, or for being able to put teams away in the postseason. On Sunday evening, they did both, winning a decisive Game 7 over the Miami Heat 116-89 that advances them to their first Eastern Conference Finals in franchise history, where they’ll face the Cleveland Cavaliers beginning on Tuesday.

After struggling for much of the series, Kyle Lowry came up big for Toronto with 35 points on 11-for-20 shooting, including 5-of-7 from three-point range. He hit several key shots in the second half to stall attempts at Heat runs, including a 9-0 run in the third quarter that cut Toronto’s lead to single digits.

Equally pivotal for the Raptors was Bismack Biyombo, who has stepped up in major minutes since Toronto’s loss of Jonas Valanciunas. On Sunday, he had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and threw down several gigantic dunks including this one over Dwyane Wade:

The Raptors’ defense kept Miami’s scorers at bay — Wade and Goran Dragic led the team with 16 points apiece, and neither was efficient in doing so. Things got chippy as the Heat’s frustration bubbled over into this flagrant foul by Josh McRoberts on Biyombo:

This was the Raptors’ best offensive performance of their series, their first time in the seven games reaching 100 points, despite three previous games in the series going into overtime.

It remains to be seen whether Valanciunas will play against the Cavs — it shouldn’t be a long series regardless, but he was Toronto’s best offensive player in the postseason before going down.