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Preview: Heat look to continue recent stretch of home success vs. the Trailblazers

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Miami is 6-3 at home since the All-Star break, but will have a tough test against a formidable Western Conference power in Portland.

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Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of one of their most impressive and complete home victories of the year, the Miami Heat will look to replicate their success vs the Portland Trail Blazers (44-21), a team they lost against back on January 8th at the Moda Center in Portland.

The prior matchup featured a vastly different looking Heat squad. A solid Hassan Whiteside performance off the bench (10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) had fans clamoring for more minutes. The very next game was his "breakout" against the Los Angeles Clippers (23 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Hassan eventually became the full time starter. In addition, Miami now has a point guard who can match the production of All-Star Damian Lillard in Goran Dragic, who has been quietly fantastic in March, averaging 19.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists on 54.3% shooting from the field.

There are no injuries to report for Miami other than a hip injury for James Ennis, who had fallen out of the rotation before that, which *knocks on wood* could indicate they are getting healthy at the right time. Miami currently sits in a three-way tie with Indiana and Boston in the East and are currently the 8th seed due to losing the tiebreaker with Indiana. A loss could very well drop them down to the lottery, but a victory could vault them to the 7th seed (and a drama-filled matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers if they hold it).

Portland recently lost shooting guard Wesley Matthews for the season, but possess a more than adequate replacement in Arron Afflalo, who seemed overqualified in his 6th man role once he was traded to Portland midseason. Still, as many of us know with Miami's injuries this year, there is a trickle down that can have a crippling effect on depth and Portland has had divvy up minutes to less efficient bench wings. It would be absurd to make this claim two months ago, but Miami might have an advantage at guard with Mario Chalmers much better suited to the 3rd guard role.

Still Portland has their two All-Stars in Lillard and Aldridge playing at a high level and as a team they rank 6th in the NBA in three point percentage (even with Lillard having a down year percentage-wise). Miami has struggled mightily from beyond the arc lately and may have trouble dealing with Portland's perimeter firepower.

Tipoff is at 7:30 from the American Airlines Arena and the game will air locally on Sun Sports.

Click here for official game tickets to see the Heat host the Trail Blazers from Ticketmaster.com!