Toronto moved into the NBA conference finals for the first time in franchise history by beating Miami 116-89 on Sunday in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series, led by Kyle Lowry, who scored 35 points, and DeMar DeRozan, who had 28.
Bismack Biyombo added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Raptors who will open the Eastern Conference Finals in Cleveland on Tuesday.
“It’s great to hear the home crowd,” DeRozan said. “This organization deserves it, this country deserves it, to see them get to the next step, somewhere they haven’t been. But we’re not done yet.”
DeMarre Carroll scored 14 points, and Patrick Patterson had 11 to help the Raptors become the 15th team in NBA history to win two Game 7s in one postseason. Toronto beat Indiana in the first round.
“We never doubted Kyle and DeMar,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “They’re our All Stars and they both played like it tonight. They both stepped up and carried us.”
Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic each scored 16 points for the Heat. They were denied the opportunity to renew acquaintances with former teammate LeBron James in the conference finals.
“We fought tooth and nail to try to get to that goal of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals,” Wade said. “For myself and a lot of guys on this team, there’s not always mother 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, and Luol Deng had 12 for the Heat. Miami, which rallied to beat Charlotte in the first round, also 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.
The closest Toronto had come to reaching the last four of the NBA playoffs was in 2001 when the Raptors lost to Philadelphia as Vince Carter’s buzzer beater shot rimmed out. Their progress this year leaves Charlotte, the Los Angeles Clippers, and New Orleans as the only three NBA teams to never reach a conference final.