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Game Preview: Heat start road trip in Portland on TNT

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The Miami Heat are taking on the Portland Trail Blazers on national television on Thursday night. Here's our Game Preview with everything you need to know.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are beginning their 5-game, 10 day Western Conference road trip on Thursday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers. Here's our game preview to get you ready!

Miami Heat (15-20) @ Portland Trail Blazers (27-8)
Thursday, January 8, 10:30 PM EST @ the Moda Center in Portland, OR.

Probable Starters
Mario Chalmers PG Damian Lillard
Dwyane Wade SG Wesley Matthews
Luol Deng SF Nicolas Batum
Chris Bosh PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Chris Andersen C Chris Kaman

This is the first meeting this season between the Heat and Blazers, and Portland is sporting the second best record in the NBA with a third of the season over. LaMarcus Aldridge is having an All-Star, some may say MVP type season so far averaging a team-best 23 PPG and 10.6 RPG. Not far behind him at 22.2 PPG is their star point guard Damian Lillard.

The Heat will have their hands full guarding those two as the rest of Portland's cohesive unit causes havoc. The Blazers are good, real good. They are the #1 team in the NBA in rebounding. That's going to cause some problems for Miami. Portland is the #2 team in points allowed, while the are #6 in points scored per game. They also share the ball well.

Miami isn't good at any of those things. Portland will be without two big rotation players -- Joel Freeland and Robin Lopez. Maybe that will help the Heat. One thing going for Miami is they have had time to rest (3 days off) and are coming off a win. So maybe they have a good mindset going into this trip.

Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will have to be effective for the Heat to win, and even then they need to catch some breaks. But let's not forget, last year Miami came into Portland without LeBron James and got the win behind Wade and Bosh. So it's not impossible, things just need to fall in their direction.

I still expect a competitive game from both teams. It's whoever can make more plays down the stretch that will come out on top.

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