NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Portland 19 27 35 30 111
Miami 31 34 29 28 122
3:00 PM PT4:00 PM MT5:00 PM CT6:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)00:0018:00 ET5:00 PM CT21:00 , January 5, 2020
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Florida  Attendance: 19,846

Whiteside set for return to Miami with Blazers

According to STATS
According to STATS

Portland Trail Blazers at Miami Heat

  1. Miami swept the two-game series between these teams last season for the first time since 2013-14. The Heat's 120 points scored in last season's home victory (120-111 on October 27, 2018) are the most they have ever scored against the Blazers.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

On Sunday night, center Hassan Whiteside will make his first return trip to American Airlines Arena since the Miami Heat traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers in July.

"It's going to feel weird playing against guys who were once my teammates," Whiteside said. "I've got a lot of memories (in Miami), playing in front of Heat fans. It's going to be interesting."

Portland comes to Miami as the underdog -- the Blazers have a losing record overall (15-21) and a 7-12 mark on the road. Miami has the best home record in the NBA (16-1) and is third overall in the Eastern Conference.

Whiteside, who is averaging 15.7 points and 1.3 assists, leads Portland in rebounds (13.8) and the entire NBA in blocks (2.8). He has 26 double-doubles in 33 games and is shooting 59.9 percent from the floor and 76.9 percent on free throws, the latter well above his career average (60.8).

On Friday, Whiteside had 23 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks in a 122-103 win over the Washington Wizards. That performance helped Portland snap a five-game losing streak, and it surely caught the attention of the Heat.

"I feel like (Whiteside) is going to come in with a chip on his shoulder," said Bam Adebayo, who has replaced his former teammate as Miami's new starting center.

Adebayo, who is shooting 57.1 percent from the floor and 68.7 percent on free throws, is averaging 15.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 blocks.

Whiteside has the edge in rebounds, shooting and blocks. Adebayo has the advantage in assists but is also eight years younger and has a much more team-friendly contract.

Portland has yet to play Miami this season but went 0-2 against the Heat in 2018-2019, losing by nine and 10 points, respectively.

This version of the Heat is much better, especially at home, where Miami struggled last season (19-22 record).

Heat newcomer Jimmy Butler has made a major difference, leading the team in scoring (20.4), assists (6.6) and steals (2.0). Rookie guards Kendrick Nunn (15.5 points) and Tyler Herro (13.4) have also helped change Miami's fortunes.

The Heat are relatively healthy except for point forward Justise Winslow, who has missed 14 straight games due to a back injury. He has been upgraded to questionable, giving him a chance to return against Portland.

For the Blazers, they are powered by point guard Damian Lillard, who is a four-time All-Star, earning that status in each of the past two seasons. He leads Portland in scoring (26.9) and assists (7.4) this season.

Lillard's backcourt mate is CJ McCollum, who is second on the team in scoring (22.3) and assists (3.8).

Forward Carmelo Anthony, a 10-time All-Star who is now in the twilight of his career at age 35, made his Blazers debut on Nov. 19 and had his season high of 26 points against his former team, the New York Knicks, on Wednesday.

Injury wise, Portland's would-be starting power forward, Jusuf Nurkic, has yet to play this season, and starting wing Rodney Hood is also out, both due to leg injuries.

Two Blazers backup centers are also out due to injuries: Zach Collins (shoulder) and Skal Labissiere (knee). But forward Mario Hezonja returned from injury on Friday, scoring 10 points in 18 minutes off the bench. He had missed six straight games due to back pain.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 5, 2020

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