Team Records: Miami (15-20) at Portland (27-8)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on TNT, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -8.5
TNT Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Greg Anthony, Lewis Johnson
Refs: Joe Crawford, Derrick Collins, Leroy Richardson
The Skinny: The Blazers continue their long homestand as they welcome in the hurting Miami Heat for a TNT matchup. Miami has been very much up and down as of late, losing to Philly and Orlando but beating Cleveland. Still, the Heat are a paltry 2-4 in their last six games.
Last Season: Miami swept the season series 2-0. Miami was the only team Portland did not not beat last season.
Projected Heat Lineup:
PF: Shawne Williams (Memphis-10th Season) – 7.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Luol Deng (Duke-11th season) – 14.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 APG
C: Chris Bosh (Georgia Tech-12th Season) – 21.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2 APG
SG: Dwayne Wade (Marquette-12th season) – 23 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.6 APG
PG: Mario Chalmers (Kansas-7th season) – 11 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.3 APG
Player to Watch: Chris Bosh (pictured at right) – Ridicule him all you want, make fun of his crying or his weird faces or his strangely inexplicable bad plays but the fact remains that Chris Bosh is one hell of a player on both ends of the court. Bosh is an excellent mid-range jump shooter with the ability to drive and even hit a 3 or two. However what really makes him stand out is his defense. Bosh has superior defensive instincts and abilities. Bosh single-handily beat Portland twice last year. If Miami is to make any sort of playoff run this year, he’ll be the reason why.
Did You Know?: Head Coach Erik Spolestra grew up in Portland and was a star PG for the University of Portland.
Song of the Day: “Miami” by Will Smith-Yes this song isn’t my favorite but to me it symbolizes Miami. Showy, multicultural and far more concerned with style than substance. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder), C Robin Lopez (Hand)
Miami: Out-PF Josh McRoberts (Knee), Questionable-C Justin Hamilton (Concussion)
I’ll readily admit that I thought that even without LeBron the Heat were good enough to be one of the top teams in the east. I was wrong. They are instead struggling for that last playoff spot, currently sitting two games ahead of ninth place Indiana. In the post-LeBron era, Miami has seen substantial decreases on both sides of the ball, with an aging Wade continuing to fade and Chris Bosh not exactly stepping up to the mark as many, including yours truly, thought he would. Miami is 17th in offense, and run at a slower pace than anyone else in the league, giving them a thin margin for error even when they play well. Their defense is ranked an absymal 26th, and they just can’t stop teams from scoring. Add in the worst rebounding numbers in the league and you have the recipe for a team that almost seems lucky not be worse off than they are.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make someone other than Bosh beat them. Chris Bosh is a Blazers killer. If the Blazers can make someone else try and beat them, they should be just fine.
Miami wins if: They hold Portland under 90 points. With how slow Miami plays, they can’t give up a lot of points and hope to have a chance to win. If they can hold Portland under 90, however, they should be able to get the job done.