Portland Trail Blazers (14-22) vs. Miami Heat (23-15)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Miami Heat at the Moda Center for the second game of a five game home stand. The Blazers are coming off of a win against the Atlanta Hawks that snapped a four game losing streak and are looking to build momentum going forward. The Heat are playing their fourth game of a six game road trip that they are 1-2 on so far.
Wednesday, January 5 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), CJ McCollum (out), Cody Zeller (out),
Heat injuries: Jimmy Butler (out), Bam Adebayo (out), Victor Oladipo (out), Duncan Robinson (out), Markieff Morris (out), Dewayne Dedmon (out), Udonis Haslem (out), Gabe Vincent (out), KZ Okpala (out), Marcus Garrett (out)
SBN Affiliate: Hot Hot Hoops
Larry Nance Jr. has cleared health and safety protocols and will play tonight.
What To Watch For
Who steps up? With the four best players in this matchup being out for this contest, the question emerges: Who fills the scoring role? For the Blazers, the obvious candidate to outperform his season average is Anfernee Simons. Simons is coming off of a career-high 43 points against the Hawks, and he also tied a career high in three pointers made. If he can play at even half of the level he was against Atlanta, he will help fill the scoring gap left by Lillard and McCollum. For the Heat, Tyler Herro has been having a potential sixth man of the year type season. Averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, Herro seems like the likely candidate to have a massive scoring game for the vastly depleted Heat.
Can the Blazers win with defense? The Blazers defense looked lost at times during their win against the Hawks, and shooting 44% from three as a team isn’t a super sustainable model for consistent success. The Heat are missing more than a few regular contributors, so the Blazers being able to make sure they aren’t beat by some secondary contributors hinges on their defensive capabilities.
Bench scoring. The Blazers starters combined to score 112 points in the victory against the Hawks, an incredible number. However, the bench scored just 22 points. The Blazers will need more of a contribution from their bench players, as that kind of extremely high volume scoring from their starters is not something that is going to happen on a night to night basis.
What Others Are Saying
Diego Quezada of Hot Hot Hoops mentions the potential impact that recent 10-day contract recipient Kyle Guy could have on the Heat moving forward.
Having Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Guy all on the roster as 3-point specialists would be a luxury. And allowing Guy to spend the rest of the season with the Heat will surely develop his game. With Tyler Herro eligible for a contract extension this off-season — and Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Robinson all making big money, as well — finding another diamond in the rough for a minimum contract is invaluable.
Guy’s biggest competition to make the roster could be another player on a 10-day contract, Haywood Highsmith. Highsmith played as a power forward and center last night and knocked down all three of his 3-pointers. With injuries to Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon and Markieff Morris (and Udonis Haslem and P.J. Tucker in health-and-safety protocols), the Heat may want to have Highsmith to provide depth in the front-court.
David Wilson of the Miami Herald talks about the Heat’s role players who have stepped up in the absence of Miami’s stars.
Caleb Martin, who’s on a two-way contract, was Miami’s second leading scorer Monday and the closest facsimile it has for Butler. If Butler misses more time, the wing will handle his spot at small forward.
Kyle Guy, who signed a 10-day contract with the Heat on Thursday, scored 14 points Monday and went 4 of 8 from three-point range. The point guard has played at least 24 minutes in every game since joining Miami.
Omer Yurtseven, an undrafted free agent, grabbed 17 rebounds Monday after getting stitches over his left eye on the first quarter. The center has grabbed double-digit rebounds in nine straight games for a Heat rookie record.