The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Miami Heat 110-107 on Monday in a perfect show of resilience. With his energetic and refocused defense in the third and fourth quarters, Portland was able to shake off a 15-point lead, en route to victory. They took advantage of Tyler Hero’s absence, while keeping all Heat players at 16 points or less. Josh Hart’s 3rd corner kick represented Miami, silencing a South Beach crowd who had regained their spirits moments ago after Max Strus 3 equalized them late. After another win in the Blazers books he kept racing Cinderella to bring home a commendable 7-3 report card, not proverbial grounds.
It was a shame to miss this game, given the late payment that was made. Never mind, we’ve got you covered if that’s the case. Our quarterly summary can be found here.
Now before you: half a dozen Easter eggs from tonight’s game, which sheds more light on why things happened the way they did.
The Blazers didn’t do their job in defense in the first half. Their complacency in guarding the 3-point line could not be shaken. They broke the basic rule of never stopping the ball in transition, which resulted in two easy-going Gabe Vincent bombshells from depth one, as well as Kyle Lowry Tree later. Portland also didn’t rise to question the opposing wing’s players at over 23 feet, as we warned in our Blazers Edge preview earlier today. Duncan Robinson and Laurie excelled in that area, piecing together six Miami trios in half. Their collective 10 triples were the most the team had achieved all season in one inning, and came with more than three minutes in the second half. More blood could have been spilled, but coach Chauncey Billups addressed the cause by having his players compete frantically, leading to missed shots, and a number of near misses.
Pam Adebayo may also have changed his name to Felix the Cat in the first half, because he was all in his bag during that stretch. When Miami needed a mid-range shot from dribbling, Pam had it. When The Heat needed a standoff jacket to continue the momentum, Bam was their man. Did Eric Spoelstra call the pickup pick? He certainly did. many times in it. And Pam found a way to bend inside for easy buckets. Adebayo also had success in the lanes of traffic, connecting with a wide-open cutter for an easy demon. Someone should write a letter to Emeril Laggase to convince him to give Heat’s PA announcer a personal audio clip of his patent, “Bam!” Only for No. 13. Being so powerful as he was offensively early in the game, he didn’t meet his production standards halfway through, scoring only six points and making assists in the last two quarters of play.
What the Blazers failed to do in the 24 minutes before the break was exactly what they capitalized on in the 24 minutes afterward. Their 2-3 zone was executed to perfection, with Drew Eubanks as a threat in the middle. They fixed their rivalry problem, by shifting their defense higher in screen, high roll, and other combinations. This is the first time they’ve shown such an impressive defense this season against the three so far, and a secret recipe for success has been discovered. A 15-point lead was cut short, so much so that the Blazers tied the match with more than two minutes left. It was evidence of the defense being revitalized, with three minutes remaining, Max Strauss attempted a 30ft shot. His defender, Anverne Simmons, was right, forcing him to slip away. It was a direct example of what coach Pelops preached in the crowd before the teams went out in the second half. The effect of going down started once Portland moved into the man’s defense, sparking their eventual game win.
On the other hand, the Miami area in the first half was very effective. Bam Adebayo had every attempt at the inner edge, forcing the Blazers to shoot from the depths, with surprising success. It was the only thing outside of Jerami Grant’s tournaments that kept them in the game.
In the first match, Jimmy Butler had three quick breaks or so within 10 minutes which helped open doors in the match. Fast forward to the day, and Butler had three heists that led to quick buckets, to help cement Miami’s lead. Butler had six takeaways in the game, hitting a season high. the reason is? Portlanders became lazy with their passes. They didn’t move the ball hard. When the butler was sneakily lurking in the passing lanes, the Blazers didn’t learn from their mistakes, and underestimated his cunning.
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Seven players were in double digits at the height of the season. Laurie played selflessly, and he and Vincent took care of their throws, leaving their two stars with ample opportunity to get their throws too. Nothing more.
Simmons comes through
Simmons says, clear a two-digit deficit to win the game. Help get Jerami Grant rolling again after the monster starts the game, Simons says. Let it fly from the depths, Simmons says. Simons says, give Justise Winslow some time at this point and let him contribute to your return. Simons and Lillard were major catalysts at Rip City leading to the heartbeat of the FTX Arena. They did what was said, and let him fly from the depths. With Miami’s barrage of long shots throughout the match, it was their fear of the three that brought them close. They ended up winning the 3-point fight 16-14, shooting 43.2 percent from the arc. Jerami Grant’s two hits from a right-hand corner made the bout close, and he was fierce on the inside for the duration of the competition. At the end of the third to fourth lead, Justise Winslow was the base guard while Dame was out. Winslow kept a good rhythm and handled the ball with precision. He had buckets inside of him that, while seemingly small, did exactly what the “other” was supposed to do – as Shaq calls them. The amalgamation of all these factors, big and small, led to victory.
The Blazers retaliated, and on the road, too. Now they’ll enjoy a day off before they set their sights on the Charlotte Hornets, in which they play in game four of their six-game wild ride, Wednesday night, 4:00 p.m. PT.
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