NBA: Miami Heat Snap 5-Game Skid, but Portland Trail Blazers are the Real Story

Scott Redick@Sports_25toLifeContributor IMarch 11, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 08:  LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers posts up Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 8, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Heat, coming off a tough loss to the Chicago Bulls, were happy to welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to South Beach on Tuesday.

However, the Heat took another hit and a fifth straight loss.

Then they brought the Los Angeles Lakers in to Miami tonight and stepped up to finally get a win, 94-88.

All week, much of the talk has been about LeBron JamesDwyane Wade and Chris Bosh not putting Miami at the head of the NBA like most expected, but let's not look past the Portland Trail Blazers.

Yes, we do still need to talk about the Heat though.

This string of games was supposed to be a chance for Miami to show us how much they have improved this season and they could compete with the elite teams in the NBA.

They now have finished the stretch 1-5, with their only win coming against the Lakers tonight.

If the Heat can only get up for games against the Lakers, I cannot see them even getting a chance to face the Lakers in the playoffs.

On Tuesday, the Big Two (James and Wade) as I like to call them, combined for 69 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists, but as usual, Bosh and co. gave them very little help.

The "We Want Riley" chants drowned out and overtook the expected boos in the fourth quarter.

The biggest problem I see is that with so many stars, James, Wade and Bosh are making their role players useless instead of better.

There are simply not enough shots to go around. They can't make role players better when Wade and James can't even keep Bosh on the level of play he should be at.

Miami needs to figure it out soon or all hope of a ring this season will be lost.

I nor anyone else can explain what is wrong with the Heat, but if you have watched any of their games recently, you can just see it.

Maybe this week has not just been about the Heat though, maybe the West has stepped back up and is going to provide us with some elite teams going into the playoffs.

We know that the Lakers will be there, but can another team step up in the West to challenge them?

Many people expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to step up when they get Kendrick Perkins back, but maybe Portland can be that team. 

Nate McMillan signed a big contract extension on Tuesday and he probably deserves it more than anyone. Even with all the injuries and other problems, the Blazers have continually been there year after year, and right now, they look like one of the best in the West. 

They have so much size and depth up front now, and for the first time ever, Gerald Wallace is on a team where he doesn't have to try to do everything on his own.

He did a good job as lead man in Charlotte, but was he ever going to make them a true threat? No.

He has finally found a good fit in Portland, surrounded by Lamarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews, Andre Miller and Brandon Roy. Portland has been a finesse team the last couple of years, but without anyone really noticing, they have become much more hard-nosed.

Aldridge put on about 20 pounds this offseason and has transformed into a banger to go along with his quality skill set he had been excelling with in the past.

Now you can add Wallace's energy and reckless abandon to what Portland does well without it changing their game plan. If you watched the Blazers play the Heat on Tuesday, then you know that this collection of players can be something spectacular. 

With Roy's injuries, the offense now goes through Aldridge, who is probably one of the 10 best players in the league right now. There's Andre Miller, who shows up looking for a triple-double every night, along with Batum and Matthews, who have become pillars of consistency on the perimeter. Off the bench, Portland now has Wallace and Roy.

Two years ago, they were the starting wings on a 50-win team if you could put them together. Roy is a superstar who will never be the same after his injuries, but if you saw him against the Nuggets last week, then you would know that he will be there in the fourth quarter hitting big shots when they need them.

If they can get Marcus Camby healthy enough to be himself on the glass and on defense, it will be another big plus. 

I dare you to find a coach who wants to play this team in the playoffs.


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