Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/9/13
The champs are here The Portland Trail Blazers will play host to the defending champion Miami Heat Thursday night, and they’ll likely be faced with their toughest competition of the 2012-13 season. Matchup: Portland (19-15) vs. Miami Heat (23-10) Venue: Rose Garden Time: 7:30 PM PT Date: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 The Blazers are an impressive 12-4 at the Rose Garden this year, but they’ll need more than just home-court advantage to take down the star power of the Heat. Game Notes/How They Match Up The Blazers will need more than just home-court advantage to take down the Miami Heat. (Photo: Doug Beghtel/The Oregonian) At the beginning of the season, most assumed that the Blazers and the Heat would be on completely different planets by the time they faced off Jan. 10. The Heat had the Big Three and an NBA championship on their side, while the Blazers had questions about their future and a whole new rotation to adjust to. While it’s safe to say that Miami still has the edge, Portland has shown that they can play, and as a result, they’ve won 11 of their last 14 contests. Both of these teams have won games with their offense this season. The Blazers are 12th in the league in scoring while the Heat are fourth, but the bigger reason for this is that both squads have struggled on the defensive side of the floor. This game has the potential to be a shootout, and the Blazers just have to hope they have the firepower to keep up. What to Watch: Portland The big question in this game for Portland will be whether or not their starters can keep up with the starters of Miami. The Blazers have the highest scoring offense in the NBA when it comes to starting units. This bodes well for them any night of the week, but the reason their starters are so strong is because they’re forced to play well with their second unit playing so poorly. If any one of the Blazers’ starters has an off game, it’s going to spell trouble for a team that rarely finds points elsewhere. Damian Lillard is going to be a player to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of the Blazers. We saw the Los Angeles Lakers swarm the rookie point guard with bigger bodies and better defenders, and they successfully rattled the youngster to the tune of 11 points and four assists on just 4-of-17 shooting. The point guard has been fantastic this season, but when he struggles, the team needs points in other places. If Miami is smart enough to defend him the way L.A. did, it could really ruin the Blazers’ plans Thursday night. What to Watch: Miami The question for Miami in this game—as well as every other game they play this year—becomes, which defensive unit will show up? Will it be the one that took down the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals—and on Christmas day—or the one that gives up big numbers to mediocre offenses? The Heat are built for the postseason—this we all know. But they have the potential and the talent to dominate opponents night in and night out all 82 games of the regular season. Defensively, this team has the speed and strength they need to match up against any team in the league, but effort is the question with so many games to go before we can truly start thinking about the playoffs. Walace may be gone, but the key matchup between these two teams still falls on the SF position. (Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP) Key Matchup Nicolas Batum has been a much-improved player this season, and there’s no question that his matching up against LeBron James is going to garner the attention of the national media. Nicolas Batum is averaging career highs all over the stat sheet, but the refreshing part for fans in Rip City is that he finally looks like an integral part of the offense. He is running the pick-and-roll, he’s getting his teammates involved and he’s scoring in more diverse ways than simply waiting for the corner three. His defense has also looked solid, but he’s about to see his toughest assignment of the year against James. Physically, James has the advantage in this one by a long shot. Batum’s slender frame against James’ freakish linebacker-sized body isn’t even a contest, so the Blazers’ forward must be quicker and craftier on both ends of the floor. These two have gotten the best of each other before, and with this game being played on TNT, the cameras will be honed in on this battle all night long. Injury Report Portland: OUT—Meyers Leonard, DAY-TO-DAY—LaMarcus Aldridge Miami: DAY-TO-DAY—LeBron James Prediction The Blazers are on a roll at this point in the season, but while there aren’t many teams who could waltz into the Rose Garden and get a win, the Miami Heat are the defending champs for a reason. Blazers 95 – Miami 107 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

4-Star 2018 quarterback Matt Corral commits to USC

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker