The Miami Heat have been in a slump. Losing seven of their last 11 has put them in this position. Monday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers was a huge opportunity for the defending champs to get back to their identity, especially on the defensive end of the ball — and they delivered as a team.
The Heat’s 93-91 victory over the Trail Blazers was more than just Greg Oden starting against his former team, or another opportunity for LeBron James to prove his dominance on an individual level. This was about the Heat playing true team defense, something this roster has been failing miserably at over the month of March. The Heat were able to rack up 14 steals by the end of the third quarter alone, with all the starters registering at least one in the process.
The Heat’s frontcourt also played a huge role in how the team dominated on the defensive end. Going up against the best rebounding team in the league, the Heat were able to out-rebound the Trail Blazers 48-44. The biggest spark plug for this production was Chris Andersen, who tallied 11 rebounds and 13 points in just 23 minutes of play.
The defensive intensity seemed to be on another level for the Heat tonight. It took a stellar block from Chris Bosh to seal the game, but it was the combined efforts of everyone in a Heat uniform that ultimately tallied the Heat’s 48th win of the season.
The fact that the Trail Blazers were able to crawl back from 17 points down and tie the game in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter is a sign the Heat’s defensive identity hasn’t been found quite yet. This game was a great first step though.