The Portland Trail Blazers (24-5) will host the defending champs the Miami Heat (22-7) tonight, in this first of two regular season match ups. The Trail Blazers are looking to hold home court and stay undefeated against the Eastern Conference.
The Heat come to Portland tired and banged up. Last night, they lost to the Sacramento Kings in overtime 108-103. Even though the loss snapped their six game winning streak, the Heat may have left Sac Town with a much bigger loss. LeBron James is injured.
James told reporters after the game that he strained his right groin in the second quarter. Rather than sit out the duration of the game, James powered through the pain and nearly saved the night for the Heat. But his discomfort was clear during his post-game interviews. Joseph Goodman, Heat beat writer and columnist for the Miami Herald, said LeBron was “walking gingerly around the post-game locker room”.
LeBron walking gingerly around post-game locker room. Strained right groin. Questionable for Portland.
— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 28, 2013
Portland Trail Blazers:
- CJ McCollum (broken foot) is still the only Blazer to be sidelined.
- LeBron James (strained groin) is listed as questionable.
- Dwayne Wade (knee) is listed as probable for tonight’s match up, after sitting out last night.
- Ray Allen (knee) also sat out last night and is listed as questionable.
- Chris Andersen (back) is listed as day-to-day.
- Greg Oden (knee) will remain inactive.
Keys To The Game:
The first half has been very important to the Trail Blazers. In fact, Portland has not lost a game this season when they are leading at half time (14-0). The third quarter has been a game changer for the Blazers but if they can win the first half, a strong third quarter will hopefully follow.
Rebounds must favor the Blazers. The Heat will most likely play a small lineup for the majority of the game. This means that LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, and Joel Freeland must crash the boards. I believe this is most important on the defensive end. If the Blazers can keep the Heat from second chance points, it will aid them in their effort to knock off the champs.
Proving they are elite is a major key to this game for the Blazers. To this point, the Blazers schedule has been favorable. They have gotten teams at home and on the second night of a back-to-back. However, at 24-5, the Blazers have been the surprise of the league. The Heat may be without James, Wade, Allen, and Andersen tonight. If those players sit out, a win for the Blazers might include an asterisk. In order to prove themselves worthy of a top ranking, the Blazers must beat the Heat by double digits. After four straight wins by four points or fewer, it’s time for this Trail Blazers team to win by a greater margin and prove they are one of the best in the West.