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Danny

HEAT at Blazers Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Sam Forencich)

The Miami HEAT continue their road trip tonight out west when they take on the surprise Portland Trail Blazers. The HEAT sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 23-10 record. The Trail Blazers are 19-15 and currently battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Tip off is set for 10:30 PM; coverage on Sun Sports starts at 10 PM.

1. How has Portland exceeded expectations?

Couper Moorhead: Strangely enough, for a team with a 19-15 record that was expected to miss the playoffs, the Blazers haven’t actually exceeded those expectations. They have an average point differential of -1.9, a barely above average offense, a poor defense and a bench that struggles to puts points on the board, none of which doesn’t typically project to an above-.500 record. And that’s all perfectly OK. With Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Batum, this team is well on its way to establishing a solid core with another draft pick or two in the mid-lottery, and if you can remain highly competitive and give your young players experience in winning close games, all the better. The Blazers may be overachieving, but like Orlando, that should suit them just fine.

Danny Martinez: It’s fun to see a team like the Blazers exceed expectations. They’re young and not particularly deep, but they’re competing. They’re record is 19-15, but their point differential suggests their record should be 15-19. They might have gotten a little lucky, but those wins are already in the bank. Damian Lillard has been really, really good and LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Batum have had nice starts as well. After having two lottery picks just a few months ago, the Blazers have to feel pretty good about their progress.

2. Should Damian Lillard be in the lead for the Rookie of the Year award?

Couper: At this point, yes, because he’s carried more responsibility for more games than Anthony Davis. Davis is a fantastic player and should be right there with Lillard when it comes to voting time, but Lillard has been exceptional in his own right and has done it as Portland’s primary, and sometimes lone, creator on offense. His shooting still has some room for dropoff – especially his off-the-dribble jumpers – and the defense still needs some work, but to-date he’s been the best rookie.

Danny: It’s a pretty clear yes. Lillard’s play has been excellent and he plays a ton of minutes compared to other rookies who have excelled. Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond have probably been better on a per minute basis, but Lillard has almost doubled them up in minutes played and has a higher usage percentage. The race will get closer as the season goes on, but don’t be surprised if Lillard takes home the hardware at the end of the season.

3. LeBron James played center for a half against Portland three seasons ago. Do we have the Blazers to thank for the small-ball movement?

Couper: In some ways, yes. The HEAT likely would have figured out the optimal lineups regardless of that game, but because James was thrust into the five spot due to injuries and foul trouble, Erik Spoelstra was offered an early glimpse of the team’s future. It may have taken some time to sort out and convince everyone involved that moving everyone up a position slot was for the best of the team, but there’s no denying that the plan that wasn’t yet a plan was put in motion during an unassuming winter night in Portland.

Danny: Every movement needs a start, and that Portland game planted the seed they ultimately led to the “small,” positionless revolution by the HEAT. The HEAT were likely always going to experiment with Chris Bosh and LeBron James as the biggest players on the floor because of the athletic advantages. But it may not have come when it did had Bosh and James not shown the ability to handle other bigs on a night when many people were quite literally sleeping.

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Three things i'd like to see:

1- Lebron spends more time in the post tonight and on free throw line. Everyone knows blazers aldrige will.

2- Bosh rebounds or at the very least tries

3- Heat compete

Sure would be nice to get a win....sadly can't say for sure.

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Have faith. You don't sound like a true Heat fan with that pessimistic outlook.

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Three things i'd like to see:

1- Lebron spends more time in the post tonight and on free throw line. Everyone knows blazers aldrige will.

2- Bosh rebounds or at the very least tries

3- Heat compete

Sure would be nice to get a win....sadly can't say for sure.

Waahh.

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Another Western Team on the Road... The type of game we struggle the most with. But I think another loss is just too much considering our recent stretch of games, where we've lost a lot more than won. I expect the team to come out and win today even if they don't win the rebounding battle. I also expect a big game from Lebron after a bad night against Indiana.

I'd like to see Varnado get minutes as well... He might suck but hey, it's worth a look.

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Would if Jarvis came of the bench and grabbed like 13 rebounds for us? Lol

But I really hope we put forth extreme effort on the boards. Especially Christopher Bosh

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He played with Boston...

Oh right , that was stupid on my part, alright it's still his first game as a Heat then...

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Don't worry guys, Jarvis will save our season and lead us to the chip! :D

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wow...already annointing some dude as the savior. Maybe wait till a game is played? :mellow:

It was sarcasm you tard.

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We need to rebound well today. We can't let Aldridge and JJ eat us alive on the boards. LBJ's recent statements reaffirming what we all know is true makes me believe he will have a HUGE rebounding game. 11+ maybe? We'll see.

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Agent 006 has some pretty fail arse sarcasm.

Anyways, Battier might be a scratch for this game...perhaps Jarvis plays some and shows us he is worthy of wearing our jersey for more then 10 days.

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Agent 006 has some pretty fail arse sarcasm.

Anyways, Battier might be a scratch for this game...perhaps Jarvis plays some and shows us he is worthy of wearing our jersey for more then 10 days.

Yeah. We need to see if he is worth anything. We need any bangers down low that we can use. Not sure if Varn is that guy (haven't seen him play, tbh) but it is worth a shot.

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Please! Jarvis Varnado should have minutes so we can see what he can do, it would be disappointing for him and the fans to have the 10-day contract and not see him out there. It's an audition for him, don't limit that to just practice. We could use the potential help anyways. Coach Spo you know what to do! ;)

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Only Line up Heat must follow:

Chalmers PG

Dwade SG

El Bron SF

Bosh (PF)

Andersen or Varnado the Tornado (aka cleaning crew) CC Center

Second unit with Dwade and Bosh on bench

Cole PG

Ray SG

Battier SF

Lebron (PF)

Andersen or Varnado the Tornado Or Joel C

3rd Unit with Bron on the bench

Chalmers PG

Miller SG

UD or LEWIS (If Lewis definitely get him in the post over and over. He can exploit the mismatch the way Robert horry used to.

Bosh (PF) pick and roll and jumpers are his defaults, but he ought to drive.

Joel or Andersen or Varnado (clean up crew and energy)

Try to get bosh to play PF, but if he must follow Spo's system and play Center, then make sure there is a high energy big out there to clean up after him. Bosh should have much more free throw attempts than he is getting, and him not consistently attacking the rim, he is not getting to the line. His comfort is his Jumper, but Bosh has got to look at Duncan. Get in the post, tip rebounds to the cleaner.

*yall can cry all you want regarding UD. In my opinion dude is not helping with the system Spo wants to run. Everyone must be Live, and If your cleaner (UD) is too slow or too short to rebound, and is not offering any live actions on offense, Sit him down.

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Only Line up Heat must follow:

Chalmers PG

Dwade SG

El Bron SF

Bosh (PF)

Andersen or Varnado the Tornado (aka cleaning crew) CC Center

Second unit with Dwade and Bosh on bench

Cole PG

Ray SG

Battier SF

Lebron (PF)

Andersen or Varnado the Tornado Or Joel C

3rd Unit with Bron on the bench

Chalmers PG

Miller SG

UD or LEWIS (If Lewis definitely get him in the post over and over. He can exploit the mismatch the way Robert horry used to.

Bosh (PF) pick and roll and jumpers are his defaults, but he ought to drive.

Joel or Andersen or Varnado (clean up crew and energy)

Try to get bosh to play PF, but if he must follow Spo's system and play Center, then make sure there is a high energy big out there to clean up after him. Bosh should have much more free throw attempts than he is getting, and him not consistently attacking the rim, he is not getting to the line. His comfort is his Jumper, but Bosh has got to look at Duncan. Get in the post, tip rebounds to the cleaner.

*yall can cry all you want regarding UD. In my opinion dude is not helping with the system Spo wants to run. Everyone must be Live, and If your cleaner (UD) is too slow or too short to rebound, and is not offering any live actions on offense, Sit him down.

Andersen's not on the team...

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