Heat Skidding

The Miami Heat hoped Dwyane Wade's return would mark the 2006 NBA champions' return to glory. So far, it hasn't gotten them very far.

Wade and the Heat look to snap a three-game losing streak on Thursday when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Miami -3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 187.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 84% of bets for this game have been placed on Miami –3 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Miami (4-13) went just 1-6 in its first seven games while Wade continued his recovery from offseason knee and shoulder surgeries. The struggles were disconcerting, but the Heat figured they'd be much better off upon the return of Wade, the team's leader in scoring, assists and steals last season.

Unfortunately for the Heat, Wade hasn't sparked the dramatic turnaround the team was hoping for. Wade has played well, averaging 20.0 points, 5.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals, but he hasn't matched his elite production from previous seasons.

More importantly, Miami is just 3-7 with its star back in the lineup.

On Monday, Wade had 26 points and a season-high 10 assists, but missed a key shot in the fourth quarter and went just 6-for-12 from the free-throw line in a 110-101 loss at Utah. Wade, an 80.7 percent shooter from the line last season, is shooting just 65.0 percent on foul shots this season.

"I think Dwyane has a little bit of fatigue," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "He's normally an 82-83 percent (free throw shooter) and in big fourth quarters, he'll make eight or 10 in a row. He's just off a little bit."

The loss was the third straight and the fourth in five games for Miami, which owns the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm not frustrated. I just want to turn it around," Wade said. "I understand, I've been a professional for five years so I understand that times are tough at times and you can't get down on your teammates, can't get down on yourself, just keep pushing."

The Heat stand a good chance of turning things around against the Blazers (6-12), who have lost five straight against Miami. Wade has topped 30 points in each of his last three games against Portland, and is averaging 28.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals during Miami's win streak in the series.

The Blazers' last win against the Heat was a 99-87 victory in Miami on Nov. 23, 2004.

Portland, though, is coming off one of its strongest offensive performances of the season. The Blazers shot 51.2 percent in a 106-105 win over Memphis on Monday, reaching their highest point total since scoring a season-high 110 against Memphis in a Nov. 9 victory.

Travis Outlaw banked in an off-balance runner at the buzzer Monday to give Portland its first road win this season. Outlaw finished with 21 points off the bench, and is averaging 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in his last four games.

Brandon Roy had team highs of 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Blazers. He was averaging just 9.4 points on 26.5 percent shooting from the field in his previous five games.

"We played with the same intensity that we've been playing with at home," Roy said. "We're a young team and we have to play together. ... We have to have six or seven guys play well and that's what we had."

The Blazers will look to build on Monday's win as they return to the Rose Garden, where they've dropped three of four since starting 4-0.

Roy is averaging 18.9 points while shooting 45.8 percent from the field at home, compared to 15.5 points on 39.6 percent shooting on the road. He's 16-for-28 (57.1 percent) from 3-point range at the Rose Garden, but just 6-for-25 (24.0) elsewhere.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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