The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, who made a major trade in August, will meet for the first time this season on Monday night in Miami.
In that deal, Miami acquired veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, who ranks fifth in the NBA with 8.3 assists per game.
The Raptors got veteran point guard GoranDragic and young forward Precious Achiuwa in the trade. Dragic is out due to personal reasons and has played just five games for Toronto.
However, Achiuwa is starting for Toronto, and he ranks third on the team in rebounds (7.6). He is also averaging 7.9 points for a Raptors team that has won seven of its last nine games.
Toronto's hot streak is being led primarily by its top three scorers -- Fred VanVleet (21.9), Pascal Siakam (21.1) and OG Anunoby (19.4).
On Saturday night, Toronto beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 103-96, as Siakam posted 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second-career triple-double.
"I try to come out every night with the same intensity and energy," said Siakam, who has bounced back well after having offseason shoulder surgery.
The Raptors beat the Bucks without two of their top-five scorers: Gary Trent Jr. (16.4) and standout rookie first-round pick Scottie Barnes (14.5). They are relying on their top three players: Siakam leads the team in rebounds (8.5), VanVleet tops the squad in assists (6.7) and Anunoby is having a career year.
"These guys are fighters," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of his team. "They love the challenge."
The challenge on Monday will be facing a Heat team that is 18-8 against the Eastern Conference and 13-5 at home. Toronto is just 13-12 versus the East and 9-8 on the road.
Miami, though, had its four-game win streak snapped on Saturday night in a 109-98 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
It's unlikely the Heat will beat the Raptors if they shoot like they did against the 76ers. Jimmy Butler shot just 1 for 11, Lowry made 2 of 11 and Duncan Robinson was also cold, making 1 of 9 and missing all eight of his 3-pointers.
"You're not to make shots every night," said Butler, who had his streak of 42 consecutive free throws made snapped on Saturday.
"It's part of the game, but it's not going to break us."
The Heat have been without center Bam Adebayo due to thumb surgery, but may get him back on Monday. Adebayo, who hasn't played since Nov. 29, leads Miami in rebounds (10.2) and ranks third in scoring (18.7).
In Adebayo's absence, rookie center Omer Yurtseven has produced 14 consecutive double-digit rebound games. He also matched a career high with 22 points against the Sixers on Saturday.
Butler leads the team in scoring (22.6) and ranks second in assists (5.7). He gets to the foul line more than anyone on the team -- an average of 8.1 free throws per games -- and he makes 87.6 percent.
Miami's other big threat is Tyler Herro, who is averaging 20.6 points. He has played 27 of his 37 games off the bench, giving the Heat a spark from the second unit.
--Field Level Media