Heat-Trail Blazers Preview
The Portland Trail Blazers haven't stopped winning at home despite a slump from their best player.
The Miami Heat, meanwhile, continue to succeed even without their two stars.
As the Trail Blazers aim for a seventh straight victory on their home floor in Saturday night's matchup with Miami, the Heat will try to clinch a playoff spot without Chris Bosh and most likely Dwyane Wade.
The Heat failed to overcome Bosh's extended absence as they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season, but they're on the verge of returning despite the All-Star being sidelined since the All-Star break by a recurrence of blood clots. Miami (44-31) can secure a berth with a victory or if Chicago loses to Detroit on Saturday.
Getting that win should prove to be difficult, as the Trail Blazers have averaged 114.5 points in winning 10 of 11 at home. Not having Wade, dealing with a sore neck and back from a hard fall in Wednesday's 102-100 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, available for a second straight night would make the task increasingly challenging.
Wade is doubtful to play after missing Friday's game at Sacramento, though Gerald Green filled in more than ably in a spot start. The journeyman guard, who had played 10 minutes over Miami's previous three games, scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Heat to a 112-106 win.
Green made 5 of 9 3-point attempts and the Heat finished 12 of 22 from beyond the arc after going 3 of 17 at Los Angeles, where Miami squandered a 15-point lead to lose to the West's last-place team.
''Obviously, everybody was disappointed about the Lakers loss,'' Green said. ''Even though the Kings played very well, we just stayed patient, we stayed the course, listened to the game plan and everything (worked out).''
The Heat have been similarly resourceful to go 15-7 without Bosh. Hassan Whiteside has helped fill that void by averaging 17.9 points and 13.6 rebounds while shooting 61.8 percent since the All-Star break.
Portland (40-36) has withstood a four-game stretch in which Damian Lillard has shot 27.9 percent and been held under 20 points each time. It moved to 3-0 on this four-game homestand despite the star guard managing 14 points on 3-of-16 shooting in Thursday's 116-109 win over Boston.
Al-Farouq Aminu offset Lillard's rough outing by amassing a career-high 28 points, three nights after Allen Crabbe delivered 21 on 8-of-10 shooting in 21 minutes during Monday's 105-93 victory over Sacramento.
While Lillard may be struggling, the Blazers have been hot as a team from the perimeter. They're 28 of 63 from 3-point range over their last two, with Aminu 8 of 17 and Crabbe 6 of 10 over that stretch.
''He turned the game around for us,'' Lillard said of Aminu. ''For a guy that hadn't been shooting the ball great on a lot of those 3-point shots, (Thursday) when we needed him, he rose up and knocked them down pretty much every time.''
Portland, one game back of sliding Memphis for fifth in the West, may have a tougher time hitting from the outside against Miami. The Heat are allowing the third-fewest 3-pointers in the NBA (7.5 per game) this season and have limited opponents to 31.4 percent over their last four.
Miami went 12 of 23 from 3 and shot 57.3 percent overall in a 116-109 home victory over Portland on Dec. 20, its fifth win in the last six meetings.