The Miami Heat (34-14) are hosting the Portland Trail Blazers (25-26) in a nationally televised contest that should be a must-see event for any NBA fan.
Portland proved that it is one of the few teams in the NBA that can even stop the Heat this year, narrowly edging the South Beach-based organization up in the Pacific Northwest just a few short weeks ago.
Things have certainly changed since, especially with a certain Miami MVP candidate playing out-of-this-world basketball over the past week or so.
Let’s take a look at where to watch this game, the latest injury report, some key matchups and storylines, make a prediction on the final score and more in this preview.
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBA League Pass (Paid subscription required)
Injuries (via CBS Sports)
G Sasha Pavlovic, Questionable, Foot
G Elliot Williams, Out, Achilles
No injuries to report.
Key Matchup: Wesley Matthews vs. LeBron James
When these two teams last went at it, back in early January of this year, the Blazers were able to hang on for a slim, 92-90 victory—largely due to Matthews’ great defense on LBJ.
Chris Bosh knocked down 13-of-18 from the field on his way to 29 points, but James was held to just 15 points, although he did notch 10 boards and nine dimes with the 6’5” guard primarily defending.
If Matthews—whom James did not post up once—can somehow manage to keep the red-hot reigning MVP out of the scoring column, the Blazers may have a chance to win this one.
It’s going to be difficult, considering LeBron is averaging 31.0 points on 71.4 percent shooting in the past five games and looks to be playing the best basketball of his illustrious career.
Key Storyline: Fouls
Poor defense and fouls doomed Miami in its trip to the Rose Garden this year, but hopefully that should not be the case in front of the home fans.
The Trail Blazers were able to steal a win being down by as many as 12 points in the early fourth quarter, largely because of their ability to get to the line and sink shots.
Portland finished the night nailing 23 of 30 attempts from the charity stripe, while the Heat only hit 14-of-20, with LeBron notably going 2-of-5.
Even though the Blazers shot a paltry 37.5 percent from the field in that first contest, the Heat weren’t able to overcome the foul differential—even by shooting a solid 45.5 percent.
Hopefully the refs won’t decide who wins and loses on Tuesday night, but anything could happen in the NBA.
Predicted Starting Lineups
G Damian Lillard
G Wesley Matthews
F Nicolas Batum
F LaMarcus Aldridge
C JJ Hickson
G Mario Chalmers
F LeBron James
F Udonis Haslem
C Chris Bosh
There is no team on this planet playing better than the Miami Heat—with King James leading the charge—which is why we simply cannot pick against them.
The club has won its last five games in a row, which is incredible when you consider the average margin of victory was 11.6 points during that span.
Whenever a team fires on all cylinders like this, the rest of the NBA must beware. It doesn’t look like LeBron and Co. will be quieted anytime soon, especially not when they are trying to get revenge against a group that jobbed them earlier in the 2012-13 campaign.
Heat 102, Blazers 95