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GAME PREVIEW: Heat get back Strus, visit Blazers

The Miami Heat will play their 4th game of a 6-game road trip when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

GAME STORY

The Miami Heat (23-15) are looking to avoid a three-game losing streak when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers (14-22) on Wednesday night.

All four Heat players (Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Udonis Haslem and Marcus Garrett) who are in the league’s health and safety protocols remain out for tonight’s game, but they all should be back very soon. Miami will also be without Jimmy Butler, who sprained his ankle in the loss on Monday to the Warriors. Butler’s injury is not thought to be serious and should return within a week.

The Blazers are also without their All-Star point guard, Damian Lillard. Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups admitted that he wasn’t certain how much time Lillard (abdomen) might miss after the point guard sat out Monday’s 136-131 win over the Hawks, Jay Allen of NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 reports. “That thing has been up and down...we’ll probably know more sooner than later,” Billups said of Lillard’s injury.

Speaking of their last game, the Blazers surrendered 56 points to Trae Young but got the win behind 43 points from Anfernee Simons (9-16 from three). The Blazers have struggled this season, but they have enough quality players to make things hard for Miami.

The Heat’s biggest concern will be Jusuf Nurkic whose size will cause Miami problems if Omer Yurtseven isn’t up for the challenge. Fortunately, the Blazers don’t use a backup center, so the Heat’s lack of size shouldn’t be a huge concern. That is the KEY MATCHUP for tonight: Can Yurtseven keep Nurkic from hurting the Heat with his post play and passing? Nurkic is averaging 13.5 PPG and 10 RPG this season.

The Blazers have lost 14 of their last 18 games. This is a team that is struggling and it is a game the Heat can absolutely get if they can shoot the ball well. Miami has been in both of their last two games, and a few things go their way they could have won them. They’ll be tired as they have been on the road for a week already, but Kyle Lowry can put them in a position to win.

Miami will get back Max Strus which is a big deal. Strus is averaging 22.6 PPG over his last five games. Adding him back, even with Jimmy out, is a big deal because he is ignitable and the Heat will be able to have him, Tyler Herro, and Kyle Guy with green lights to get going.

ODDS: FiveThirtyEight gives the Heat a 44% chance to win the game.

HEAT VS BLAZERS: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5 AT 10:00 PM.

INACTIVE/INJURIES

MIAMI:

  • Victor Oladipo: out (knee; surgery rehab)
  • KZ Okpala: out (wrist)
  • Dewayne Dedmon: out (knee)
  • Markieff Morris: out (neck)
  • Udonis Haslem: out (health and safety protocols)
  • Bam Adebayo: out (thumb)
  • Gabe Vincent: out (health and safety protocols)
  • Duncan Robinson: out (health and safety protocols)
  • Marcus Garrett: out (health and safety protocols)
  • Jimmy Butler: out (ankle)

PORTLAND:

  • Damian Lillard: out (abdomen)
  • CJ McCollum: out (chest)
  • Cody Zeller: out (health and safety protocols)
  • Larry Nance Jr.: out (health and safety protocols)
  • Cameron McGriff: out (healthy and safety protocols)

LINEUPS

Projected Starters

Knicks Position Heat
Knicks Position Heat
Kemba Walker PG Gabe Vincent
Evan Fournier SG Duncan Robinson
RJ Barrett SF Jimmy Butler
Julius Randle PF PJ Tucker
Nerlens Noel C Bam Adebayo

BROADCAST INFO

TV: Bally Sports Sun, NBA League Pass
RADIO: The Ticket 790AM & The HEAT Radio Network (Jason Jackson, Ruth Riley Hunter)
SPANISH RADIO: WAQI 710AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)

Come back to Hot Hot Hoops at game time to join our GameThread and chat about the game live with other Heat fans!