Tonight at 4:30 p.m. PST, the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Miami Heat in Miami. The Trail Blazers nearly completed an improbable comeback in Washington on Monday but came up short after trailing by 25 points. The Heat are fresh off a win over LeBron James and the Cavaliers which will have them in a positive mindset. The game can be seen on CSNNW and heard on Rip City Radio 620 AM.
When you trail by 25 points in a game, you probably don’t expect to win. The Trail Blazers are a unique team and have an uncanny ability to stay competitive when they trail by double-digits. The Wizards almost let the Trail Blazers come back and win on Monday night, when the Trail Blazers fought back within three points with under nine minutes left. It wasn’t meant to be and the Trail Blazers walked away with the loss and now face a Heat team that had an emotional win on Monday.
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The Heat welcomed King James back to South Beach on Monday, a place he brought his talents (and two championships) before returning to Cleveland. It was the second time this season the Cavaliers paid a visit to Miami and both times they left with a loss. Wade has been playing lights out, and Monday night, we saw vintage Wade on display. He finished the game with 32 points on 13-18 shooting. With James gone and Bosh out for the season, the playoff hopes for the Heat rest on Wade’s shoulders once again.
Unlike the Trail Blazers, the Heat are fighting for a playoff spot. Currently they are tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics. There are actually three teams with the same 30-36 record but the Indiana Pacers own the seventh place spot due to tiebreakers. With 16 games left to play, the bottom of the Eastern Conference is very tight.
Lillard played terribly on Monday night, scoring 14 points and shooting an abysmal 27.7 percent from the field. After totaling 51 points in the two games prior to Monday night’s contest, Lillard seemed to be rounding back into form. He has struggled against the Heat shooting only 28.1 percent in their first two meetings. In the first meeting with the Heat this season, he shot 35.3 percent and scored 16 points.
The Trail Blazers will have to rely on Aldridge tonight. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds in the first game and should be able to take advantage of his matchup with Haslem tonight, though Whiteside could present an obstacle. With Matthews out and Lillard’s problems against the Heat, his play is very important. Lopez will be aiding on the interior, and will have to keep Whiteside busy. Whiteside wasn’t in the starting lineup back in January but has become a staple for the Heat since then. He came off the bench in the first game and had 10 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes.
The only category the Heat rank within the top-10 is points allowed. They are a good defensive team and just shut down the Cavaliers for most of the game on Monday. The Trail Blazers rank in the top-10 in all four major categories (points per game, rebounds per, assists per game, and points allowed) and should be able to exploit the weak areas in the Heat’s game. The Heat go as Wade goes and if the Trail Blazers can stifle his contributions, they will have a better chance of winning tonight.