Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers (-8, 197 o/u)
Life for the post-LeBron James Miami Heat (15-20, 8-8 away) has been rocky at best with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both missing large chunks of time this season. Both are now healthy, though – along with Chris Andersen and Danny Granger – and will be looking to lift the team out of mediocrity.
The first step on that path is to win back-to-back games. After beating the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday (88-84), the Heat will have a chance to win two straight for the first time since mid-November.
“I think that’s one of the things we have to overcome, putting stuff together,” Bosh said. “We can’t just win one. Getting two in a row, that’ll be our first challenge. And then we’ll see after that.”
Wade is confident that, with a full lineup, the Heat will be able to coalesce. “Now we’ve had about three games where it’s pretty much been our team,” said Wade. “So now we’re starting to get a little feel of how we wanna play offensively, defensively, kinda find our strengths a little bit. And now we have a little more time on the road trip to play that way and see what we can do.”
Standing between Miami and a modest win-streak are the Northwest Division-leading Portland Trail Blazers (27-8, 16-3 home). Miami’s defense will have its hands full keeping point guard Damian Lillard in check. The Weber State product is averaging 22.2 PPG and had 39 on Monday in a win over the Lakers.
“He just makes tough shots when you need them,” said Portland head coach Terry Stotts. “He’s a special player. Some of the shots that he can make. And he’s very driven. He’s a great competitor and I think he’s able to will himself to do some things.”
Portland is 11-7-0 ATS this season as a home favorite, but the Heat are finally healthy. That means take Miami and the points (+8).
(Photo credit: nikk_la (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)