The Miami Heat look to open 4-0 at home for the first time in franchise history on Wednesday night when they face a Portland Trail Blazers team that has historically played well in South Florida and could have Greg Oden back in its lineup.
Miami (4-3) has dominated its first three opponents at AmericanAirlines Arena, winning by an average of 18.0 points and holding them to 84.7 points and 40.6 percent shooting from the field.
The Heat easily won their first two home games before being challenged by New Jersey on Monday night. The Nets led by 10 with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter, but Miami outscored them 26-11 the rest of the way behind Dwyane Wade’s offensive surge.
Wade scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth - 14 in the final 4 1/2 minutes - as the Heat improved to 3-0 at home for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. They started 0-5 in Miami last season en route to a 9-32 home record.
“Did you see the fourth? I mean, wow,” said Miami rookie forward Michael Beasley, who added 19 points, six rebounds and four assists. “(Wade’s) such a great player and he showed again tonight, even when he’s sluggish for the first two, three quarters, he’s going to finish with a bang.”
Wade went 4-for-7 from 3-point range after missing his first nine attempts from beyond the arc this season.
“I didn’t need to use them yet,” Wade said. “But tonight, I brought them out.”
He may have to do the same against Portland (4-3), which is 15-5 all-time at Miami, including a 98-91 victory last season.
The Blazers struggled in their first three road games this season, averaging 89.3 points, but opened a five-game trip with a 106-99 win over Orlando on Monday. It was Portland’s third straight victory overall after opening 1-3.
“This has been part of the reason we’ve lost our first couple games, not being able to finish games off,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “Not only did I talk about, but they talked about winning the third and fourth quarter and getting stronger down the stretch.”
Outlaw, who played 41 minutes off the bench, made 3 of 5 3-pointers to help Portland’s reserves outscore Orlando’s 40-12.
“He’s the guy down the stretch that we’ve been going to over the years and tonight when the offense stalled he was able to get us a couple of buckets,” McMillan said. “We got our confidence back.”
Portland may also get Oden back. Oden - the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft - has been out since suffering a right foot injury in the season opener, but declared himself ready to return after Wednesday’s shootaround. The Blazers have him listed as a game-time decision.
“Feels good. I’m ready. I’m excited,” Oden said. “I’ll hopefully play the full game tonight.”
Miami is hoping to get Shawn Marion back after he sat out against New Jersey because of a left groin strain. Marion, who spent the first 8 1/2 seasons of his career in the Western Conference with Phoenix, is averaging 18.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 27 games against the Blazers.