Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers game preview
Achieving Chris Bosh’s modest goal of finally putting together back-to-back wins might be tough for the Miami Heat on their upcoming West Coast swing.
Then again, Miami might have a decent chance to achieve it in the opener of this five-game road trip if he can continue tormenting the Portland Trail Blazers.
Winning in Portland – especially now that the Heat no longer have LeBron James – certainly is a daunting task considering the Blazers (27-8) own the West’s second-best record and have won 15 of 17 at home. However, the Heat (15-20) have had three days off before this game and have been getting healthy.
Plus, they’re coming off Sunday’s 88-84 win over a Brooklyn team which had won six of seven. Miami, though, hasn’t won consecutive games since beating Orlando and Charlotte on Nov. 22 and 23.
"I think that’s one of the things we have to overcome, putting stuff together. We can’t just win one," Bosh said. "… Getting two in a row, that’ll be our first challenge. And then we’ll see after that."
Bosh is coming off his best performance in four games after missing eight with a sore calf, scoring 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting Sunday as Miami snapped a four-game skid.
Additionally, the Heat welcomed back starting center Chris Andersen last month after an extended absence, and Danny Granger recently returned after battling injuries. Plus, center Hassan Whiteside, signed Nov. 24, has taken advantage of his opportunity in the regular rotation with 24 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks in the last two games.
"Now we’ve had about three games where it’s pretty much been our team," guard Dwyane Wade said. "So now we’re starting to get a little feel of how we wanna play offensively, defensively, kinda find our strengths a little bit. And now we have a little more time on the road trip to play that way and see what we can do."
Wade missed the last meeting with the Blazers on March 24, when Bosh blocked Damian Lillard’s layup on the final play to preserve Miami’s 93-91 victory. When the Heat last visited Portland on Dec. 29, 2013, Bosh capped a 37-point night with a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left that gave Miami a 108-107 win with James sidelined by injury.
In the previous season, Bosh averaged 30.5 points on 76.5 percent shooting in two matchups with the Blazers.
This trip continues Sunday against the defending Pacific Division champion Clippers, followed by games on back-to-back nights against the Lakers and league-best Golden State before ending in Sacramento.
"This road trip will be a good time for us to get away, get away from Miami, be around each other and just continue to fight everything and to do it together," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "… When you face tough times, adversity and frustration, some disappointment during the season, the only way out of it is together."
Keeping Lillard in check could be a big key for Spoelstra’s team. He had 39 points and the go-ahead basket with 36 seconds left in Monday’s 98-94 win over the Lakers.
Lillard, limited to 16 points two nights earlier in a loss to Atlanta, has scored more than 25 six times – all wins – in Portland’s last 10 games. That stretch has included three efforts of at least 39 points.
"He just makes tough shots when you need them," coach Terry Stotts said. "He’s a special player. Some of the shots that he can make. And he’s very driven. He’s a great competitor and I think he’s able to will himself to do some things."