NBA: Portland Trailblazers at Miami Heat Preview

Last updated March 24th, 2014

lebron jamesWith just a few games remaining on the season, the (45-25) Portland Trailblazers travel into hostile territory to face the (47-21) Miami Heat (Monday 7.20pm ET).

This is the second of a two-game series for the two teams, the first of which was won by the Heat by a score of 108-107. 

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Both the Heat, 1st in the Southwest Division, and the Trailblazers, 2nd in the Northwest Division, have enjoyed success this season. Both teams are playoff bound as well. However there is something to be said for getting hot at the right time and in terms of Miami and Portland, this is not the case.

The Heat, who are only two games behind the Indiana Pacers for best record in the East, have been in the midst of something of a slump lately. They lost back-to-back games at home for the first time in nearly four years just last week and they have struggled in the month of March. In all, the Heat have lost seven of their last 11.

The Trailblazers have struggled to gain their footing since emerging as the surprise team at the beginning of the year. They surged out of the gate and with a young roster; expectations for the team were high. But lately, Portland has struggled. They just lost a game by 30 points to the (34-36) Charlotte Bobcats and have dropped six of their last nine.

Blazing the Offensive Trail

Despite the recent hiccup suffered by Portland, they are still the top offensive team in the NBA. The team is first in points per game with an average of over 107. Miami meanwhile ranks 10th with an average of just over 103 points per game.

The Trailblazers are also first in rebounds per game while the Heat are 30th. This could come into play here as Portland has been very successful in games in which they out-rebound their opponents.

Part of the reason for Portland’s stellar offense is the combination of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge leads the team with 23.4 points which is just under four less than the 26.8 of which Lebron James (pictured above) paces the Heat. Aldridge averages a double-double and bests Lebron by about four rebounds per game.

Lillard, a scorer in his own right (21.2 points per game), paces the Blazers in assists. He averages just under six for his team which ranks seventh in assists per game.

It has been a team effort all season for the young Trailblazers as each of their starting five average double digits in scoring. Center Robin Lopez has been particularly impressive, averaging a team-high four offensive rebounds per game. He averages 8.5 rebounds total.

The Lebron Show

As can be expected, the Heat will only go as far as their MVP can take them. This year, Lebron James has shouldered the team and has helped them to the East’s second best record. In the Heat’s earlier win against Portland, James actually missed the game and yet it still resulted in a Miami victory. This game however was one of the few won by the Heat in which Lebron sat out.

Against the New Orleans Pelicans, James twisted his ankle in the third quarter. He stayed in the game and finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. He is listed as day-to-day but should play in this game.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on. The Heat should be favored to win this game at home but if Lebron is possibly hampered or even if he misses the game entirely, those odds could change. Miami has a less than favorable record without James and against a team as strong as the Trailblazers, the absence of their greatest star could have a serious impact.

Trailblazers at Miami Heat Betting Picks

Miami’s home court advantage cannot be discounted but neither can the team’s recent slump and the potential they will be playing without Lebron. Portland however has been in a slump of their own and shouldn’t be a lock to win even if James does miss the game.

There is another injury to watch though as Aldridge is expected to miss the game as well. Again, this is something to keep an eye on because if Aldridge doesn’t play that is a huge loss for the Blazers.

Both teams could really use this one and both will play for it. There is an importance to entering the postseason on a positive note and a win against a top team would go a long way. There are lofty expectations for both Miami and Portland and this game will offer a telling tale of what these teams can look to expect in the postseason.

  • The Trailblazers will look to avenge their last brutal loss but without Aldridge this could be a tough task. Therefore, take the Heat to win at home and I advise betting on Miami on the spread -6.5pts at odds of -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook.