Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Can Heat Stop Sucking Against Portland?

“We suck.”

Those words were uttered by Chris Bosh following the Heat’s disappointing loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. Gone were the good vibes following Friday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Instead, the vibe in the locker room felt more like a funeral parlor.

The Heat’s recent struggles are well-chronicled. They’ve been complacent, lazy on defense and turned the ball over like they get a bonus for each careless pass. Their play in the month of March has been arguably the worst in the Big Three era. And don’t take it from me; here’s LeBron James speaking to ESPN’s Mike Wallace following that Pelicans loss:

 “It’s too many excuses; everything is an excuse. We do something wrong, it’s an excuse. We don’t get a stop, it’s an excuse. We turn the ball over, it’s an excuse. What we’re doing right now ain’t good enough.”

Strong words from both James and Bosh, to be sure. Maybe if this were another team, one that lacked a strong leadership core, Heat fans would have a reason to panic. But Miami has seen too much since 2010 and a strong bounce-back performance against Portland can be expected. Keep in mind that Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden, who both sat out the New Orleans game, will be expected in the starting lineup against the Trailblazers. For Oden this will be an incredible redemption game, facing his former team for the first time since his amazing comeback; staying calm in these circumstances and avoiding foul trouble will be a challenge.

Portland is looking for a little redemption as well. Once the hottest team in the league and atop the Western Conference standings, the Blazers are now fifth (at 45-25) and look to avoid dropping further. The problem? As per Grantland’s Zach Lowe, it isn’t a matter of Portland’s defense (which was never elite and has actually been better than expected) but their once-unstoppable offense:

“Their offense, once a prolific 3-point bombing machine, has been medicore for two months; Portland ranks just 12th in points per possession since the 31-9 high-water mark, not potent enough for a so-so defensive team to make any noise in the playoffs.”

So Miami and Portland are struggling, remarkably both losing seven of their last 11 games. Can Miami find the focus necessary to right the ship before facing the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday? Or will LaMarcus Aldridge regain the shooting touch that had him as a dark horse MVP-candidate? In their only previous matchup on December 28 (albeit minus an injured James), the contest was evenly-matched, with the Heat escaping Portland with a 1-point win on this play:

Seeing the team celebrating Bosh’s big shot – and recalling the funereal attitude following Saturday’s loss – it seems like Miami has transformed into a completely different team.

Personally? I liked the happy-happy, joy-joy version much better.

Watch the telecast of the game beginning at 7:30 P.M. on Sun Sports from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.

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Tags: Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade Greg Oden Lamarcus Aldridge Lebron James

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