Opponent: Miami Heat (27-25 overall, 5-5 last 10 games)
Offensive Rating: 108.4 (25th)
Defensive Rating: 109.4 (sixth)
Net Rating: -1.0 (19th)
Where: Moda Center (Portland)
When: 7:00 p.m. (PST)
Broadcast: NBC Sports Northwest/FOX Sports Sun
Point Spread: Miami -1
Moneyline: Miami -116, Portland -102
Primer: Go ahead and forget most of what you learned from Portland's 125-122 victory over Miami on March 25. The Heat played that game without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, not to mention Victor Oladipo, forced to give major minutes to bit players like Gabe Vincent and Max Strus.
Oladipo won't be available on Sunday, either, after hurting his right knee last week – an ominous sign given his injury history. But Miami was never going to really rely on Oladipo this season anyway unless his performance proved worth that gamble. His new team has plenty of options to win without him.
Butler, shocker, has been a two-way bellwether for the Heat amid a season ravaged by injuries and COVID-19 complications. They're a whopping 10.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass, an elite mark league-wide that's easily best on the team.
Like Butler, Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson offer additive attributes that make life easier on their teammates. Adebayo has leveled up as an individual scorer and mid-range shooter this season, while continuing to serve as the fulcrum of Miami's dribble hand-off game and switching defense. Robinson is back to setting nets ablaze after a relatively slow start to 2020-21, shooting 55.2 percent from deep over his last eight games.
The stress that Butler, Adebayo and Robinson put on defenses is tough for any team to handle, but especially Portland. The Blazers, believe it or not, just don't have a viable matchup for a superstar wing with the size and athleticism of Butler. Adebayo's playmaking dynamism makes him a threat almost everywhere on the floor, a reality further leveraged by the insane shot-making ability of Robinson – and the nuanced two-man game that's a bedrock of their team's attack.
It's just tough to imagine Portland stringing together stops against Miami's core lineups when Jusuf Nurkic is off the floor. His communication and instincts as a backline defender loom extra large facing an offensive attack like the Heat's. Enes Kanter is simply too slow and paint-bound for this matchup; Adebayo's become a good enough scorer that he can abuse the Blazers' small-ball lineups.
Another note on Adebayo: Portland's guards will inevitably be left to go at him in isolation after switches, and will probably lose. Opposing players are shooting just 31.4 percent against him in one-on-one situations, per NBA.com/stats.
Bottom Line: Nurkic, by all accounts, should be available, but bettors put the spread of this game within a single point for a reason. If both Portland and Miami play well, this one should come down to the wire.