The Scouting Report: at Miami Heat

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Projected starting line-up: Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside

The Miami Heat look to have a playoff team once again after barely missing out on the tournament last season. Last year the Heat looked primed to be a playoff team and maybe a little bit more after trading for Goran Dragic at the deadline. Of course, you now remember that almost immediately after that doctors had found blood clots in Chris Bosh’s lungs, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

Thankfully, Bosh is back and essentially at full strength once again. He’s playing All-Star caliber basketball with a consistent and efficient 3-point shot to go along with 17 points per game and eight rebounds playing nearly 33 minutes per game. Bosh was excellent last season and he’s one of the big reasons why the Heat have a chance for a top-two seed in the East.

What makes the Heat so good and what seems to be a factor in the success of a lot of teams is their depth. They scooped up Hassan Whiteside at the NBA version of the thrift shop and ended up with the NBA leader in blocks by a mile and a guy who will almost certainly command a max contract this summer. Guys go into the lane and just throw up terrible shots if Whiteside is in the vicinity. Luckily for the Blazers, Whiteside is prone to give the ball right back to the other team whenever he gets it in the post.

Unfortunately for Whiteside and Bosh, the story is once again the ineptitude of their backcourt. The most concerning has been the play of Goran Dragic. After signing with the Heat in free-agency for five seasons, Dragic is having one of the worst seasons of his career. Shooting just 43 percent from the field and under 27 percent from the 3-point line, there’ve been times where back-up point guard Tyler Johnson has looked like the better option for the Heat.

Dwyane Wade can still make magic happen, but that seems to be happen less and less these days as Wade plays through the effects of wear and tear on his body. He too is going through a down season from the field.

Rookie Justise Winslow has also been a big reason why the Heat have been a top defense, but he’s still a work in progress when he gets an open shot. Off the bench, Gerald Green can heat up very quickly and has done that against the Blazers a few times before back when he was with the Suns.

Miami is a veteran team whose success is built on defense. The Blazers can certainly beat this team with their shooting and the fact that Miami has very little outside shooting. But if this game gets close, you’d have to like Miami’s chances against this young Blazers team who are still learning how to win games.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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