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Portland Trail Blazers at Miami Heat Preview

The Blazers arrive in Miami looking to build momentum.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (15-21) at Miami Heat (25-10)

January 5, 2019 - 3:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Skal Labissiere (out), CJ McCollum (out)
Heat injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Jimmy Butler (questionable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Hot Hot Hoops

The Portland Trail Blazers arrive in the warmer climes of Miami following a win over the Washington Wizards 122-103. Hassan Whiteside turned in a remarkable double-double performance with 23 points, 21 rebounds, and five blocks. Damian Lillard led the Blazers’ scoring with 35 points, while CJ McCollum contributed 24.

The Miami Heat welcome the Blazers after a loss to the Orlando Magic 105-85. Jimmy Butler contributed 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, while Bam Adebayo also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Cold shooting contributed to the Heat’s woes against the Magic, as Butler and Adebayo were the only players in double figures.

What to watch for

  • Momentum. The Blazers got a much-needed win over the Wizards following a disappointing loss to the New York Knicks. It remains to be seen whether Portland can capitalize on the opportunity that the win — and Miami’s loss — has provided, but whoever can take advantage will come out on top.
  • Defense. To put it plainly, defense wins games, and Miami has had some up-and-down performances where their defense is concerned. If the Blazers can get a monster performance out of block-master Hassan Whiteside, chances are good they can push Miami’s buttons on the other side of the ball as well.
  • Hassan Whiteside. It stands to reason that the guy looking to “clear the confusion” will bring all of his talents to the court against his old team. Whiteside has a lot of motivation to play hard and turn in the kind of performance Blazer fans are just getting used to seeing out of the big man.

What they’re saying

Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald takes a critical look at the Heat’s use of a zone defense:

The zone started to become a weapon for the Heat last season, when it used zone defense more than any other team in the NBA. According to Synergy Sports, Miami used zone for 13.9 percent of its defensive possessions last season, compared to 7.9 percent of its defensive possessions this season.

So far, the Heat’s zone has been more effective this season. Miami is allowing 0.831 points per possession when using zone, compared to 0.923 points per possession last season.

Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation examines how Jimmy Butler has transformed as a teammate in Miami:

No one is talking about how bad of a teammate Butler is anymore. The Heat are the Eastern Conference’s surprise contender, surging to a 25-10 start that has the franchise currently positioned as the No. 3 seed after missing the playoffs last year. Butler is playing at an All-NBA level, grading out as one of the most impactful players in the league in whatever advanced metric you prefer during a season when his scoring is down and his shooting percentages have plummeted.

Look closer and you will see that Butler isn’t just Miami’s best player, he’s also the team’s biggest cheerleader. All of the sudden Butler looks like one of the most supportive teammates in the NBA.

Jasmyn Wimbish of CBS Sports reports that the Heat will retire Dwyane Wade’s jersey on February 22nd.

For 15 seasons in South Beach, he donned the No. 3 jersey while dazzling fans on a nightly basis as he hit career milestones, won championships and repeatedly claimed Miami as his city. His farewell tour last season was emotional, as he swapped jerseys with a different player on the opposing team following every game, was named an honorary All-Star for his final season alongside Dirk Nowitzki and ended his career by putting up 30 points in his final home game inside American Airlines Arena.

On the latest Blazer’s Edge Podcast, Tara spoke with Nekias Duncan of Bleacher Report about the Miami Heat, Hassan Whiteside, the personalities in Miami, and more. Check it out below: