Can PDX do it again?
The Portland Trail Blazers have only traveled to Miami once since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, but they came away with a 105-96 victory in that lone road meeting.
Matchup: Portland (25-26) @ Miami Heat (34-14)
Venue: AmericanAirlines Arena
Time: 4:30 PM PT
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013
Portland has historically played well in the state of Florida, and following a 110-104 loss to the Orlando Magic, it will look for a bounce-back performance against the Miami Heat.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The last time the Blazers faced the Heat, it proved to be one of the most exciting games of the 2012-13 season. Portland dug itself into a hole early, but a second-half comeback led to a 92-90 victory for the home team.
The Blazers had a couple of things going for them the last time they played Miami. First and foremost, they had the crowd behind them. It’s much easier to come back when the crowd is on your side, and an early hole will be tough to recover from on the road.
The other thing the Blazers had going for them is that momentum was on their side. Miami came in on a cold streak while Portland was one of the hottest teams in the NBA. This time around, Miami is coming off a strong win against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Blazers have come back down to earth.
What to Watch: Portland
Portland is coming off of a game where it shot better than 50 percent from the field, yet lost to one of the worst teams in the league. How is this even possible, you ask?
The Blazers gave up 50 rebounds to the Magic in a six-point loss while only managing to collect 38 of their own. They allowed Nikola Vucevic to collect 19 boards, while nobody on their own roster grabbed more than eight.
The good news is that Miami will let you rebound against them. In fact, they’re dead last when it comes to rebounding this season. If the Blazers can dominate the boards—especially on offense, where they’ll earn more scoring opportunities—it will help keep this game competitive throughout.
What to Watch: Miami
When it comes to the Miami Heat, you can break them down and analyze them all you want, but in a game like this, it simply comes down to how badly they want it.
As good as Portland can be, the Heat are arguably the best team in the entire NBA. They are a top-5 team on offense, they’re one of the best defensive squads when they want to be and they have the star power to compete with anybody in the league.
So why wouldn’t they want a game like this? Needless to say, their long-term goals are centered around the NBA Finals, and they’ve been known to go into coast mode before the playoffs arrive.
Heading into All-Star Weekend, Miami is probably more concerned with the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom they play on Thursday. If they’re not focused coming into Tuesday’s matchup, Portland could take advantage of a team that is looking too far into the future, and not focusing on the challenge at hand.
Any time these two teams get together, the spotlight belongs to LeBron James and Nicolas Batum.
The last time these two battled, it was beyond entertaining. Nicolas Batum had a 28-point, seven-rebound, five-assist performance, while James managed to record 10 rebounds and nine assists to go along with his 15 points.
Both players know how to produce in both half-court and fast-break situations, both are great two-way players and they are first and second in the NBA in assists for small forwards.
James has the edge physically, but Batum has shown this season that he can be as crafty as it comes. The small forward position will get a lot of attention Tuesday night, and there’s a chance that whichever player performs the best will lead his team to victory.
Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Ronnie Price, Sasha Pavlovic
Portland took down Miami once already this season, but round 2 should prove to be tougher for Rip City. If Miami is focused, this could be one of the toughest games of the year for the Blazers.