The Trail Blazers got a look at what aggressive and opportunistic NBA defense is all about Sunday night in Moda Center.
The Miami Heat brought an intensity on the defensive end of the floor that Portland couldn’t match and the result was a 107-98 defeat.
Miami forced turnovers on the Blazers’ first three possessions of the game, wrecking Portland’s pet pick-and-rolls and setting a tone for the game.
By halftime, the Blazers – not a team known for turnovers – had 12 of them and Miami had none. Points off turnovers through the first two quarters? Miami 20, Portland 0 (obviously). The Trail Blazers finished with 17 turnovers, good for 28 Heat points.
“I thought Miami played a very good defensive game,” Terry Stotts said. “They were very aggressive, forced a lot of turnovers in the first half. The fact that we were in the game with 12 turnovers in the first half was, I thought we were in decent position. But to be honest, I thought we looked a step slow and they may look like the rested team. I don't say that very often.”
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum faced all sorts of defensive pressure.
They combined to go 10-28 from the field with nine turnovers. The Blazers were just 11-35 from three for the game, while Miami was 12-29.
But the Heat have always had a defensive identity under Coach Erik Spoelstra and now they have an on-court enforcer in Jimmy Butler, who holds his teammates accountable.
It works very well on a team that isn’t exactly full of defensive stoppers.
“Give Miami credit for what they did defensively,” Stotts said. “I thought they were really aggressive on both Dame and CJ. The turnover differential in the first half was, I think, a combination of their aggressive defense and we were a bit, I don't know what the right word would be, I don't want to say soft, but we were just, we didn't execute. And when I say execute, I mean, pass, screen, cut -- all those things that you have to do against good defensive teams.” Stotts blamed the offense for this loss, not the defense.
“I thought tonight, our biggest problem was our offense,” he said. “You know, I thought for the most part, our poor offense led to their transition and led to their offense. So, for the most part I thought our halfcourt defense was OK.
“But I thought our offense, which we rely on, wasn't where it needed to be.”
Portland plays host to Boston Tuesday night in Moda.