In what is sure to be the biggest showdown between the two franchises this summer, the Portland Trail Blazers will face the Miami Heat in their fifth and final 2023 Summer League game. The Blazers were eliminated from the tournament’s final four bracket by virtue of a Utah Jazz victory on Friday evening. Each participating team gets a consolation game to end their Las Vegas foray. The Blazers drew Miami.
It’s hard to imagine bigger stakes in the stare-down between Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin and Heat President Pat Riley than a final victory in the annual competition. If Portland wins, they’ll own a 4-1 record, equal to the best in the league save the eventual tournament champion. A Miami loss would plunge them to 2-3, a disappointing record that would not speak well of the franchise. nor of its ability to attract and retain talent.
If the Heat win, both teams would finish 3-2, in a virtual tug-’o-war in the battle for respectability, with no possible way to differentiate which organization was more attractive.
Given those realities, chances are neither franchise will give an inch. It might take an overtime or two, or maybe even months of overtime, to settle this one. If, indeed, it can be settled.
Rumors are Portland might be angling to play the Brooklyn Nets instead, as that matchup has more to offer. (With Brooklyn’s 3-1 record, you know.) The buzz around the league is that certain Powers That Be will disallow that move, forcing the Blazers to joust with the Heat, but there’s always hope, right?
Per the schedule posted at NBA.com, the battle between Portland and Miami will commence at 8:00 PM, Eastern/5:00 PM, Pacific on Sunday. The game will be televised on ESPN2.