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Game #17: Miami Heat (9-7) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (12-7)

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The Heat will open a 4-game west coast road trip tonight in Portland.  The Blazers have started their season pretty well, winning 12 games, and have been even tougher at home where they have won 7 of 10.  While the Heat have been shooting much better of late, resulting in higher scores, Portland gives up the second fewest points in the league, surrendering just 89 points/game. 

They are, however, coming off of their worst defensive effort of the season, allowing the Jazz to shoot 61% and score 108 points.  That was Portland's second loss in a row, so either the Heat are playing them at the right time, or we're going to get our butts kicked by a really pissed off team.  
 
Portland is led by their version of D-wade, Brandon Roy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing the two...but every time I watch the Blazers I see something great from Roy.  This year he has been joined by Greg Oden.  Remember him?  He's the guy who looks about 20 years older then he is. 

While Roy leads the Blazers in points (19.7) and assists (5.2), Oden is having an equally good year, leading the team in rebounds (8.2) and blocks (2.3).  Believe it or not, Oden should have better numbers.  As he adjusts to playing in the NBA, Oden often gets into foul trouble which has limited him to playing just 24.6 minutes/game.

The Heat are finding themselves in limbo; a team that got off to an amazing start has seriously stumbled.  Now...well look at the past week.  An amazing win in Orlando followed by an extremely poor effort at home against the Wizards, then the Boston game which in which the Heat kept up with another top team in the conference, but this time came up short at the end. 

Hopefully the return of Quentin Richardson will stabilize the roster and get the Heat back to the way they were playing when the season started.  How much Q plays remains to be seen, as despite having Richardson back on in the lineup on Sunday, Coach Spoelstra played him for just 9 minutes.

GAME NOTES

  • The Heat have been swept by Portland two years in a row, each year playing once at home and once in the Rose Garden.

 

  • Portland is 0-4 when allowing their opponent to score 100 points or more.  

 

  • They are also just 3-5 when playing teams with a winning record.  However, most teams with a winning record haven't also lost 7 of their last 9...like the Heat. 

 

  • More on Greg Oden, who also leads the Blazers in field goal%, shooting 63% on the year.  More recently, he is scoring 16 points on 70% shooting over the past six games.  

 

  • The hottest Heat player?  Probably Mike Beasley, averaging 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in the past six games.  

 
Tipoff from Oregon is 10pm.  Last time the Heat played there they got spanked, shooting 35% en route to a very embarrassing 106-68 loss last November.