Portland Trail Blazers (32-20) vs. Miami Heat (24-27)
Tuesday, February 5 - 7:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (status uncertain following trade)
Heat injuries: None
How to watch on TV: TNT
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Hot Hot Hoops
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Heat after a long span of rest and a victory last over the Utah Jazz 132-105. In the game against the Jazz, the Blazers dominated: Damian Lillard sliced through the Utah defense and almost notched a triple-double with 36 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds. CJ McCollum contributed 30 points with a night of hot shooting, and Meyers Leonard, filling in for Jusuf Nurkic, logged a season-high 16 points. Their electric performance over the Jazz earned them an extra day of rest on Saturday.
The Miami Heat arrive in Portland following a loss to the Indiana Pacers, 95-88, marking the third-straight loss for the Heat. Dwyane Wade had 21 points, while Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Josh Richardson and Kelly Olynyk had 14 points apiece. Tempo was an issue against the Pacers: although Miami led at the half, the Pacers came back to close out the win. The game against Portland is the first of a five-game West Coast road trip.
What to watch for
- Meyers Leonard. Leonard had his first start this season against the Jazz, and his 16-point contribution came on 6-of-7 shooting, while he also added six rebounds and tied his career-high with four assists. After some unsteady play in recent years, Leonard has stepped up this season when given the opportunity. The Hammer has earned his nickname and a spot in the rotation, and his newfound confidence could be a difference-maker, especially in the second unit.
- Well-Rested Versus the Weary. The Blazers are coming off of three days of rest, alongside a couple of days of practice. Miami arrived in Portland on Monday afternoon with a long cross-country flight under their belt. Following a spate of losses, the Heat could very well be feeling burnt out.
- Team Cohesiveness. Trades are hard on everyone, even if the NBA is a business. Rodney Hood will shortly be joining the team from Cleveland, though it remains to be seen whether he will be in Portland in time for Tuesday night’s matchup. If he isn’t, it could be a key moment for Jake Layman to prove that he is a rotation player and a critical contributor to the team’s flow.
What they’re saying
David Wilson at the Miami Herald examined the morale of the Heat following three losses at home:
In his postgame press conference Friday at AAA, Erik Spoelstra made it clear he’s not yet frustrated with where his team stands. The coach said he planned to give the Heat the day off Sunday — everyone, he said, should stay away from the arena — before Miami heads off on a six-game road trip. To get back on track, Spoelstra admitted he might have to make changes.
Tom J. Wade over at Hot Hot Hoops gave a preview of the Heat’s upcoming schedule, explaining why February could be a key month for the team:
Something that’s worth noting however is that the Heat are one of just eight NBA teams who boast a winning road record, which will give much-needed confidence despite the tough task ahead. There is, of course, the All-Star game in Charlotte which falls in between the final two games against the Mavericks and Sixers which will provide the team a chance to regroup during the grueling period on the road.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sentinel got into Dwyane Wade’s feelings about the special exception All-Star selection:
”It was a dope gesture,” Wade said of Silver making the exception for himself and Nowitzki. “I told him and I said, at this point I appreciated my fans for voting for me, but I didn’t want to be put in a position where he’d take a roster spot of someone who’d get their first opportunity to go the All-Star Game, or second or third. I’ve had 12 chances at it.”