Seeking 5-0 start, Blazers welcome Heat to town
The Portland Trail Blazers are 4-0 for the first time in 23 years.
Now, the Trail Blazers look to continue their surprising strong start on Wednesday night when they host the Miami Heat.
Portland hasn’t won at least five in a row to start a campaign since the Clyde Drexler-led squad won its first eight in 1992-93.
This season, the Trail Blazers won their first three by an average of 3.7 points before erupting for a 135-110 home trouncing of the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
Star guard Damian Lillard expects the good times to continue.
“Our understanding for what we’re trying to do is just getting better,” Lillard said after Monday’s triumph. “I think the best thing about it is that it feels sustainable.”
Lillard is refreshed after seeing his 2021-22 season conclude after 29 games due to an abdominal injury.
He is averaging 37.7 points over the last three games. He poured in 41 points in back-to-back games before scoring 31 against Denver.
Backcourt mate Anfernee Simons was also hot, as he made seven 3-pointers and scored 29 points. Simons erupted in the third quarter by scoring 22 points, knocking down six of his treys.
“Obviously, during that time, everybody is looking for me,” Simons said. “They see that I’ve been hitting two and three in a row at that point. That just speaks to the team and how well-connected we are. Everybody has one common goal and that’s to win, so they’re going to do it by any means necessary. Somebody’s hot, find a way to get him the ball.”
Portland trailed by 13 points in the second quarter and eventually led by 27. The Trail Blazers outscored the Nuggets 80-49 in the second half.
Miami has dropped three of its first four games as it opens a three-game road trip.
Its lone win came in the first of a two-game set against the visiting Toronto Raptors when it produced a 112-109 win on Saturday. Two nights later, the Heat lost the rematch 98-90 when they were outscored 27-14 in the fourth quarter.
“They made shots,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. “They made some big shots down the stretch, even the ones that we were defending pretty well.”
Jimmy Butler had 26 points and eight rebounds, while Tyler Herro added 22 points and tied his career high with 15 rebounds.
Butler leads the Heat with a 23.0 scoring average. Herro is right behind him at 21 points per game and is averaging a team-best 8.8 rebounds.
Herro, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season, has started all four of Miami’s games this season.
Monday’s game marked the first time the Heat held a team below 100 points this season. They allowed an average of 108.5 during the season-opening four-game homestand.
Spoelstra is hoping to see improvement as the team faces the Golden State Warriors on Thursday and the Sacramento Kings on Saturday after the visit to Portland.
“This is an opportunity for us to really start to connect and face some adversity on the road,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat will get Caleb Martin back from a one-game suspension tied to a scuffle he started against Toronto rookie Christian Koloko on Saturday.
Victor Oladipo (left knee) has yet to play this season. Spoelstra has said the team will be cautious with Oladipo.
Miami has won the past three meetings and six of the last eight against the Blazers.
–Field Level Media