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NBA playoff scores 2016: Goran Dragic saved the Heat from elimination

Dragic has been at his best in Chris Bosh's long absence, and he balled out on Friday to force a Game 7.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Chris Bosh's absence is the best thing that could have happened to Goran Dragic.

Nobody wants to see Bosh sidelined, sadly missing over a third of the season with complications from his dangerous blood clot conditions. But it wasn't until he went out that Dragic finally reached his full potential in Miami. Dragic dramatically improved his numbers after the All-Star break, and his dominant performance in Game 6 on Friday summarized perfectly what his playoff run has been like over the past few weeks.

To keep their season alive, Dragic dropped 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting on Friday, nabbing seven rebounds and dishing four assists. It wasn't a singular burst, but a steady drip of needed points and quality baskets. Dragic's jumper is fully on, with the Dragon feeling good enough to take aggressive stepback shots in the mid-range, but he has stayed aggressive, passing up shots to nail creative, contorted layups around the rim like this one.

Dragic is at his best as a high-usage player and is a disservice when the ball isn't frequently cycling through his hands. Miami made their playoff push without Bosh, but now they're missing Hassan Whiteside as well, leaving even fewer offensive outputs. With Luol Deng and Joe Johnson struggling, Dragic is second only to Dwyane Wade in usage these playoffs, more than four percent up from his overall regular season number (21.5).

Wade's renaissance is very real, but he can't do it alone. Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson have been revelations as rookies, but expecting consistent, high-quality offense from them on a regular basis is just foolish. No, all the weight has been on Dragic, and the point guard responded by turning back into the player he was in Phoenix, one who was named to an All-NBA team.

The series, now tied at three, shifts back to Toronto on Sunday for a decisive Game 7. If Miami wins, it won't be favored -- it'll be enormous underdogs, even -- against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have blitzkrieged their way through the postseason thus far. But that's a concern for the Heat to have if and when they get there. They're still alive, and Wade understands exactly why that is.

They'll need him again to win Game 7.

2 more things we learned

The Toronto's very sad playoff history is, well, very sad

This is the second time in Toronto's sad, short history that they've advanced past the first round. Somehow, despite eight playoff appearances, the Raptors have never won a playoff game while being ahead in that series.

When they won a series in 2001, they trailed 0-1 and 1-2 before winning the game's final two contests (with the series still being the old five-game format). In the first round this year, they beat Indiana in Game 1, 3 and 5, but never won any of the following games, eventually beating them in Game 7 while tied 3-3. Against Miami, the same pattern has duplicated itself.

Toronto probably won't snap this unwieldy record this postseason. If they win Game 7 on Sunday, they'll play the first two games in Cleveland, who are very likely to march straight to a quick series win more than they're likely to lose two in a row.

Justise Winslow to the starting lineup makes sense

Winslow's lack of a shot and general struggles temporarily benched him earlier in the series, but in Game 6, it was his time again. Miami inserted him into the starting lineup at center, going as small as they possibly could with the 6'7 wing who played four-fifths of his minutes at small forward this season.

But with Jonas Valanciunas out (and Whiteside for Miami on the other side), there's no reason not to turn to Winslow. Valanciunas' replacement Bismack Biyombo isn't small, but he has no post moves that will hurt Winslow. The rebounding edge for both teams was essentially a wash in the game. Winslow's biggest weakness is his lack of a shot, so playing him at center allows Miami to stay four-out and not be damaged when Winslow's defender sags way off of him. (And Winslow did knock down a wide-open corner three in this game, to his credit!)

It wasn't a storybook evening for Winslow, but his 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting with three rebounds and no turnovers felt important. There's no reason for Miami to go away from that in Game 7.

Play of the night

Josh Richardson is very good, in case the memo has not reached your desk yet.

2 fun things

Before and unrelated to the game, Rocket fans held a rally trying to convince Houston ownership to hire Kenny Smith as the team's next head coach, which is a hilarious and also totally real sentence I just wrote.

A very bad offensive goaltending call.

Final score

Heat 103, Raptors 91 (Hot Hot Hoops recap Raptors HQ recapSB Nation recap)