Team Records: Portland (45-25) at Miami (47-21)
Game Info: 4:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Miami -6
Refs: Jason Phillips, Brent Barnaky, Eric Lewis
The Skinny: Since they didn’t show up on Saturday in Charlotte the Blazers should have plenty left to take on the defending champion Miami Heat Monday on the road. The Heat have been very up and down as of late, coasting more than a little bit as they near the end of the regular season. Miami has won only four of their last eleven games overall and is coming off a road loss in New Orleans in their last game on Saturday.
Last Time They Met: Chris Bosh hit a 3 with less than a second left to give a Lebron-less Miami team a one point win in Portland in a thrilling game back in late December.
Projected Heat Lineup:
PF: Chris Bosh (Georgia Tech-11th Season) – 16.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
SF: LeBron James (St. Vincent-St. Mary’s (HS)-11th season) – 26.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.5 APG
C: Greg Oden (Ohio State-3rd Season) – 3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, .1 APG
SG: Dwayne Wade (Marquette-11th season) – 19.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.9 APG
PG: Mario Chalmers (Kansas-6th season) – 9.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.1 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. Time and time again in Miami’s win over Portland in December he made defensive plays few players would see let alone pull off. Without those plays Miami doesn’t even have a chance to win the game late. Bottom line, Bosh might be the least heralded member of the big three but he is pretty darn good in his own right.
Did You Know?: Ray Allen is just two 3 pointers short of 100 made this season, which would mark his NBA record 17th straight year with 100 or more threes made.
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 (Knee), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Back)
Re-Evaluating Miami: Don’t Sweat the Struggles
Yes Miami is struggling as of late (4-7 in their last 11) and they often struggle even in wins against lesser teams. This is no reason to worry, however, as Miami knows they will be either the #1 or #2 seed in the east, they can win on the road in the playoffs and there is no reason to push themselves harder than need be before the real season (the playoffs) begins. Miami is still as deadly as ever and even with their struggles that doesn’t change that. Come mid-April they will be crushing teams as they always seem to and likely cruising towards their fourth-straight NBA finals, with only the Pacers likely to pose any sort of threat to Miami’s eastern supremacy.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Miami’s scoring outside Bosh, Wade and James. Miami’s big three is good enough to win on their own but they are damn near impossible to stop if they get help from the rest of their team on offense. Portland will have to hope to keep the rest of Miami’s team off the score sheet and take their chances with making the big three beat them on their own.
Miami wins if: They make Portland play sloppy. If the Blazers play as sloppy as they have at times as of late, Miami will be sure they are punished for it and will probably win fairly easily.