In a Nutshell
The Blazers field one star while the Heat field two superstars. Portland comes out with energy but so do LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. What do you think happened?
You could see from Possession One in this game that the Heat were determined not to repeat their post-All-Star slump from last season. LeBron James came out with nasty intentions, scoring 8 in the period. LaMarcus Aldridge kept his team afloat, scoring a dozen. The rest of the Blazers, sparked by Nicolas Batum, joined the party, hitting nearly every shot they took early on. But for all of that, they never separated from the Heat. They needed near perfect shooting just to get up by 6-8 points. When Dwyane Wade joined the party Miami closed. When the Heat got serious about defending, pushing Portland outside against the clock, it was over. The Blazers trailed 32-24 after one. Portland made a push in the second behind some deep shots. Unfortunately that's exactly the trap Miami sets. Shoot long, pretty soon you'll miss, then you're done. The Heat outscored Portland 28-18 in the second, led 60-42 at the half, and the rout was on. Portland couldn't close the gap in the third as Miami forced turnovers, rebounded, and ran on both. How good were the Heat? The obligatory second-half comeback for the Blazers never got the lead below double digits. Miami wins 107-93.
The Blazers came out with energy tonight. You have to give them that. Sadly they were up against a much better team. Plus the energy wasn't sustained enough and didn't run deep enough through the roster. When you saw Miami you saw a team committed to playing hard and playing together. The Blazers manage the first sometimes. That's not enough against a team like this.
LaMarcus Aldridge did what he could scoring, looking unstoppable on given possessions. But neither he nor Nicolas Batum could get free enough often enough to counter the Miami swell. Aldridge 10-18 for 20 points but only 6 rebounds. Batum 6-11 for 17 points and 5 rebounds.
Joel Przybilla played some nice interior defense and set his usual pristine screens. He also got 19 minutes, which I'm sure is about double what he expected. 6 rebounds, 2 blocks.
Elliot Williams looked nice on everything but the finish of his shots. He gets good separation. He was 1-4 in 5 minutes. Hey...might as well throw something up, young guy.
Gerald Wallace is so easy to guard right now it's not funny. He's passing up half his shots, which isn't helping him or the offense. He had 12 points on 4-9 shooting but managed a paltry 3 rebounds. To be fair, the defensive assignments tonight were a little tough. But Batum got 5 in fewer minutes played.
If Marcus Camby is going to complain about playing time he may want to watch film of the times his guards get beat and he stays flat-footed waving at the ball instead of moving to help. He looks about as inspired as a half-baked summer squash right now. 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 21 minutes but I'm not sure his overall defense stood up to those numbers.
Jamal Crawford shot 8-16 for 18 points. Good enough. His crimes were the 0-5 clip from the three-point arc and 5 turnovers.
Raymond Felton played but 16 minutes, shooting 1-4 for 3 points and 3 assists. He's running but towards what?
Wesley Matthews filled up the boxscore tonight in a rare multi-digit appearance. He had 15 points on 4-6 shooting, 5-5 from the free throw line. He got straight-line drives as Miami shaded towards other scorers. Matthews had 7 rebounds and 4 assists too.
Fun With Numbers
- Miami and Portland shot roughly the same 47% from the field but the Heat got 6 more shot attempts. They took 10 more free throw attempts as well. Between turnovers and offensive rebounds given up the Blazers didn't have a chance to hang with Miami's offense.
- Speaking of...Miami 9 turnovers to Portland's 16. 11 of those were off of Heat steals.
- LBJ 38, Wade 33. Couldn't stop them. Couldn't stop anyone else after trying to stop them.
- No Blazer had more than 7 rebounds. No Blazer had more than 4 assists.
Remember at the beginning of the year when Portland got off to a hot start and people (in and outside of the local area, including some media members) were speculating they were elite? You saw elite tonight. It's not 7-2. It's not anything comparable to what the Blazers have shown. Remember what that looks like. This is what your team is shooting for.
Peninsula is Mightier will no doubt yawn at yet another road win.