The Trail Blazers suffered a 107-98 loss to the Heat on Sunday. Despite a favorable rebounding edge and solid shooting in the first half, coach Terry Stotts’ squad could not outrun Miami’s disruptive defense. Offensively, the Heat rallied behind 42 combined points from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. For the Blazers, both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum fell short of the 20-point threshold. As a team, Portland produced only four players in double figures.
You can check out our quarter-by-quarter breakdown by visiting our instant recap. Now, let’s get into the key points from the Blazers’ loss on Sunday.
The Blazers claimed the rebounding and field goal percentage advantage in the first half of action, but found themselves behind the Heat in the points column due to a lopsided turnover battle. Miami’s zone defense lived in the passing lanes and swarmed ball handlers when angles dissipated, leading to 12-0 advantage after the opening 24 minutes. Lillard tried to stretch the Heat’s defense to its breaking point with his arsenal of super-deep three-pointers, but that was a losing proposition once Miami started sending extra pressure at the halfcourt line.
The Heat finally committed their first turnover at the start of the second half. At the final whistle, Portland lost the turnover battle by a margin of 17-to-7.
I usually try to avoid this territory, but the Blazers’ frustrations came through the telecast in a crystal-clear picture. From bodies hitting the floor to whistles from the officials, there was plenty of disgusted looks to go around. You could cut the uneasiness in the air with a knife as the Heat cruised to a double-digit lead in the second half.
That frustration became even more apparent when coach Terry Stotts turned to the reserves with roughly four minutes to go. The Blazers deep bench stepped up and put together a run of offense and defense in garbage time. More importantly, it looked like Portland’s backups actually enjoyed the game of basketball.
Hopefully things improve for the Blazers after a day off (and a fresh officiating crew arrives). Again, this is an area I typically try to avoid, but it was painfully clear on Sunday.
Sinking Too Far
Adebayo feasted on Portland’s drop coverage throughout the night. Acting as the de facto point guard for Heat, the former Wildcats big man identified open teammates and generated points on his own. Nurkic, who is clearly working back into form and also headed to the locker room for a brief moment on Sunday, was no match for Adebayo. The Heat pivot finished with 22 points, but thanks to that late-game run by Portland’s deep bench, Adebayo’s +/- ended up at negative one.
On the glass, the difference between Nurkic and Enes Kanter’s rebounding style was on clear display. For some reason, Nurkic routinely punched at the ball with one arm instead of trying to secure it with both hands.
Powell Does it All
Norman Powell continued to shine as a multi-faceted threat on offense. In transition, every one of his moves has a purpose. When Powell isn’t getting his own points at the rim, he is getting others involved. In the first half, he connected with Robert Covington for a gorgeous alley-oop finish.
Inside half-court sets, the former Raptors guard torched the Heat when they left him unattended. Whether it is off the dribble or in a catch-and-shoot opportunity, all of Powell’s shots feel like a perfectly scripted attempt.
In 33 minutes, Powell finished with 17 points and four rebounds.
The Blazers return to action on Tuesday against the Celtics.