Point guard Goran Dragic was in attack mode frequently and early Friday night, and he carried the Miami Heat into another do-or-die Game 7 as an outcome.
The Eastern Conference second-round series is currently tied, 3-3.
“I was merely aggressive,” said Dragic, whose plus-minus was a game-high and-25 in 38 minutes. “I did not want to go home to Europe. I want to be here. It was an important match for us, and of course we came out from the first minute with aggressiveness, attempted to assault the paint and space the floor, and I believe we did an astonishing job tonight.”
Dragic came into Game 6 having an up and down playoffs in which he was averaging 15.4 points on 43.5 percent shooting.
The difference in Friday night’s 30-point, 12-for-21 performance was his ability to get down and drive to the rim.
Goran Dragic took complete benefit of the driving lanes created by the little lineup of Miami, finishing with 30 points on Friday. “Tonight was his night, and he was competitive,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“What [Goran] reveals is great emotional equilibrium,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Tonight was his night, and he was competitive. Because normally it is me that is the reason he can not look like himself or foul trouble when he does not look like Goran the only individual that feels worse than him is his head coach. But he looked like himself tonight and it arrived at the perfect time.”
Spoelstra pulled out all the stops in Game 6, using a modest starting lineup that included Justise Winslow and no player taller than 6-foot-9. Spoelstra after added a lineup that featured three guards, with rookie Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Dragic.
The goal in trying to beat the absence of 7-footer Hassan Whiteside was to provide Dragic and franchise player Dwyane Wade (22 points) with quality flooring spacing and lanes to attack the basket. The Raptors won the rebounding battle 43-41.
“Sometimes non-traditional works,” Wade said.
Both teams played with a first- round series that went seven games. So of course, this one will, also.
Something has to give.
“It’s different than a standard game,” Wade said of Game 7. “It is not a Game 1, where you’ve got a Game 2 the next day. You’ve got to give. You have to do. You’ve got to give everything you have. There’s no tomorrow.”
For the Heat, tomorrow exists because Dragic, for all his highs and lows, played like the best player on the floor.
“It is great. It’s amazing. “I appreciate the competitiveness, I appreciate every game. You know sometimes you are going to have bad games and sometimes you’re going to have games that are great, but I attempt to look at the positive and try to reply. Nobody said it is going to be easy, and I’ll be going to Toronto for the seventh game.”
The pair exchanged friendly shoulder nudges as Wade joined Dragic for their postgame news conference at the podium.
“I understood this guy to my left was going to have an incredible performance tonight,” Wade said of Dragic. “You could just tell he was on the verge of having one, and it was a fantastic match to get.”