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Portland Trail Blazers at Miami Heat Preview

The road trip continues in South Beach, as the Trail Blazers face a defensive squad in Miami.

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NBA: Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (3-1) at Miami Heat (2-2)

Saturday, October 27th - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Heat injuries: James Johnson (Out), Dion Waiters (Out), Wayne Ellington (probable), Derrick Jones Jr. (probable), Justise Winslow (probable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Hot Hot Hoops

After banishing the other Florida squad, Portland looks to keep the good times rolling against the Miami Heat. Damian Lillard once again put the league on notice, dropping 41 on the Magic on Thursday, and the three-headed beast of Zach Collins, Seth Curry, and Nik Stauskas shows no signs of slowing down.

Miami wants to stay above .500 on the current home stand after running the New York Knicks out of the building Wednesday 110-87. The mercurial block party chairman Hassan Whiteside paced the Heat with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks. A win would go a long way towards helping the Heat in the highly competitive Southeast Division.

What to watch for

  • The battle down low. Zach Collins is third in the NBA in shooting percentage, with an absurd .727. Whiteside is once again near the top of the NBA in blocks with two per contest. Will the Blazers be able to challenge at the rim and put the Miami big man in foul trouble? (After all, Whiteside averages three per game.) Or will Collins and Jusuf Nurkic be forced away from the paint?
  • Slowing down Rodney McGruder. McGruder has been a major surprise for the Heat this season, averaging 16.5 points, four assists, and 6.8 rebounds per game in the wake of the absence of Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters. Making life hard on him early will be a major defensive point for Portland.
  • Breaking the Miami defense. The Heat rank in the top seven in the NBA in opposing field goal percentage and opposing three-point percentage. Breaking down the Miami defense with effective screens will be the key to offensive success for the Blazers.

What they’re saying

Matt Pineda of Hot Hot Hoops wonders how the Heat lineup will change once their injury woes abate:

McGruder can play shooting guard and small forward for Miami. And with the looming returns of Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington, what’s going to happen to McGruder? Because I will tell you this: there are not enough minutes in those spots to play him as well as Winslow, Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Dwyane Wade and Josh Richardson. And that’s before you even talk about Dion Waiters.

Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald talks about Hassan Whiteside feeling back to full strength for Miami:

“He put in a very good summer of work, and you’re seeing the dividends pay off from that work,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Whiteside. “He’s in terrific shape. His weight is at a really good place. And he can sustain a high level of play of a lot longer now.”

Ivan Mora of All You Can Heat bemoans the shooting woes of forward Justise Winslow:

Will he turn over a new leaf? Of course, he is way too talented and athletic not do. But, will that work in Miami’s favor? Probably not, because one thing that is affecting his game is his awful shooting, or therefore lack of.