“We fought tooth and nail to try to get to that goal of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals,” Wade said. “We came up, obviously, one game short of that. For myself and a lot of guys on this team, there’s not always another season, another season, so you want to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Miami hadn’t lost a Game 7 since the first round at Atlanta in 2009. They won their past four Game 7s, all at home. Miami was seeking to join the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics as the only teams to win five straight Game 7s.
Instead, the Heat were left to wonder what might have been after losing Chris Bosh at the All-Star break for the second straight year, then losing center Hassan Whiteside to a sprained right knee in Game 3 against Toronto.
“Hopefully, going forward, this organization is not snakebitten like we’ve been the last two years, losing key players,” Wade said.
Joe Johnson and Justise Winslow scored 13 points, and Luol Deng had 12 for the Heat. After rallying to beat Charlotte in the first round, Miami fell short in its bid to become the first team to erase 3-2 deficits in consecutive series. The Raptors improved to 3-6 when they had a chance to eliminate their opponent and won for the first time in 14 tries in a playoff game that started before 4 p.m.
Leading 86-78 to begin the fourth, Toronto stretched its lead to 16 on a dunk by Biyombo and back-to-back 3-pointers by Carroll and Terrence Ross, which made it 96-80 at 9:41. Patterson made a layup and, following Lowry’s steal on Dragic, added a pair of free throws that gave the Raptors a 102-82 lead at 7:30, all but sealing Miami’s fate.
“Their most aggressive, most energetic burst was at the beginning of that fourth quarter, and they put it away,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They wore us down.”
The Raptors didn’t let up, and a 3 by Lowry at 3:23 made it 111-86.
NEW TERRITORY FOR TORONTO
The Raptors lost Game 7 of the conference semifinals to Philadelphia in 2001, when Vince Carter’s buzzer-beater rimmed out. Charlotte, the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans are the only three NBA teams to never reach a conference final. Toronto got there in its 21st season.
Heat: Miami’s only lead of the game came at 37-36 on a hook shot by Johnson at 5:41 of the second. … Josh McRoberts got a flagrant foul for whacking Biyombo at 7:55 of the fourth.
Raptors: Toronto hasn’t lost back-to-back games since March 23-25. … The Raptors broke the 100-point barrier for the first time in nine games, which snapped a season-worst streak. … Toronto out rebounded Miami 50-30. The Raptors had 20 offensive rebounds, while the Heat had seven.
The Miami Heat — always a contender for top free agents — have a lot of options this offseason.
There are big questions about Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Chris Bosh that team president Pat Riley will have to answer.
Can the Heat become title contenders again?
Our NBA Insiders debate the future of the Heat.
Wilder and his team have been in Sheffield, England, for the past two weeks training and adjusting to several hours of time difference. They were scheduled to fly to Moscow on Sunday afternoon but did not board their flight and were making plans to return to the United States despite having not heard from the WBC on the matter, a member of Wilder’s team told ESPN.com.
Hours after Wilder and his team skipped their flight, the WBC, having little choice with the titleholder preparing to return home, announced the fight was off and called it a postponement.
“The World Boxing Council is diligently addressing the positive test result from the [WBC’s] clean boxing program for mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said in a statement. “Keeping the priority of safety and also the principle of justice, the WBC will continue the investigation into the case. Consequently, the event scheduled for May 21 in Moscow is hereby officially postponed. The WBC will be releasing more information in the coming days regarding the final ruling on the matter.”
Kenseth also had the benefit that Larson still doesn’t have the stomach to win a race dirty. He possibly could have wrecked Kenseth at some point for the lead but would rather wait beyond 87 career starts to win a race clean as opposed to in any way possible.
“I didn’t want to do anything dirty,” Larson said. “I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He’s definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him.
“So I was just going to try and race him as hard as I could without getting into him to beat him. He’s sitting in Victory Lane and I’m not, so maybe I need to do something a little bit different, but nothing crazy to take him out or anything.”