Sunday, the Trail Blazers were even more short handed than expected when they visited the Miami Heat.
CJ McCollum was sidelined with an upper respiratory infection. The Trail Blazers starting shooting guard has been dealing with the illness over the last few days, but after taking medication he has not improved. Gary Trent Jr. got the starting nod for the second time this season.
For the Heat, Miami was without Jimmy Butler who has been dealing with lower back soreness.
From the tip-off, it was evident the Blazers did not have enough manpower to defeat a Heat team that was 16-1 at home entering Sunday’s game.
Portland trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half.
Despite the Blazers going on a 16-2 run and cutting the lead to 10 midway through the third quarter, after playing with more energy and shooting better, the Heat were able to answer and cruise to a victory.
Here are three quick takeaways from Sunday’s loss:
1. Rough shooting night for Portland early on
The Heat were red hot and rolling all night.
It was the opposite type of night for the Blazers in the first half.
Portland shot 35.7 percent from the field for the first half and hit just three of their 14 three-point attempts, whereas Miami shot 60.5 percent as a team and made 9-of-20 from deep through the first two quarters.
Being down 31-19 at the end of the first quarter made it difficult for the Blazers to mount a comeback.
However, Anfernee Simons, who got the start at shooting guard to begin the second half, was a bright spot for the Blazers. Simons was the beneficiary of a handful of backdoor cuts and passes from Damian Lillard. Simons had 12 points after three quarters.
No surprise, but it should be noted that the Blazers missed McCollum’s nearly 23 points per game, his play-making ability, and his leadership in the starting lineup.
Damian Lillard did everything he could to provide a scoring punch. He finished with 34 points on 11-of-22 shooting.
2. Heat show off depth
Miami put on a show offensively. Heat rookie shooting guard Kendrick Nunn had 10 points in the first quarter. Miami picked apart the Blazers defense with their two-man game as the Heat had a lot of success with their pick and roll.
It was a sharing is caring kind of night for Miami. In the first 24 minutes of action, the Heat had 19 assists to the Blazers’ seven.
The Heat’s second unit outscored the Blazers’ bench 26-6 in the first half led by Goran Dragic’s 14 points; and that was with Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra playing an eight-man rotation. Dragic scored a season-high 26 points four minutes into the final period.
Dragic came up with big shot after big shot whenever the Blazers would make any sort of run.
3. Whiteside’s return
In his first return to Miami since being traded last summer, Hassan Whiteside put the emotions aside, and went to work down low early on. Whiteside dealt with the boo birds all night long.
Despite the Blazers dealing with a big deficit for a majority of the game, Whiteside was still able to have a positive impact on both ends of the court. The 7-footer finished the game with 21 points and 18 rebounds.
Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their five-game road trip with game No. 4 of the trip in Toronto Tuesday night. The Blazers and Raptors will tip-off at 4:00pm PT on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.
Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!