Miami Heat

Miami Heat lock down Portland Trail Blazers as Jimmy Butler stuffs the stat sheet

#Jimmy
(NBA Getty Images)

Are the Miami Heat once again peaking at the right time of the season?

Sparked by a strong defensive effort, the Heat stifled the Blazers high scoring offence to pull out a 107-98 win on the road.

Star Portland duo, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were held to just 29 points combined on 10-for-28 shooting, as the Heat now move into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 28-25 record.

Butler's big night

When healthy, Jimmy Butler has consistently reminded the NBA world that his best is still oh so good.

Missing 16 games so far this season, Butler has been one of a number of Miami players to spend time on the sideline. Similar to last season, the Heat will be hoping they find good form and health on the road to the playoffs, as home court becomes a real possibility.

Butler was brilliant defesively against Portland, harassing the Blazers on the perimeter while also being his usual productive self on the offensive end. The All-Star forward finished with 20 points, four rebound, five assists, four steals and two blocks on an efficient 7-for-13 from the field.

Turnovers hurt Blazers

Butler wasn't the only Miami player to feast on Portland's turnovers, with seven players registering a steal on the box score.

This ultimately took the Blazers out of the game, with some lazy ball handling and decisions hurting them down the other end. Damian Lillard (five turnovers), CJ McCollum (4) and Jusuf Nurkic (4) in particular struggled to take care of the basketball.

Dame climbs 3-point ladder

It was an uncharacteristically quiet night for Blazers star Damian Lillard, with the guard tallying just 12 points on 3-for-10 from the field.

All three of Lillard's made baskets came behind the arc, as he went by legendary Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on the all-time 3-point made list.

Lillard now sits 11th all-time, with Jason Kidd just five makes ahead in 10th. Just 17 made triples away from 2000, Lillard is set to become just the 10th player in NBA history to reach the milestone.

Postseason outlook

The Heat are now just half a game back of the Atlanta Hawks for the four seed in the East, which would give them the luxury of home court advantage in the first round. For Portland, the situation is a little more tenuous, with the threat of a play in game looming large.

Holding a 31-22 record, Portland are 1.5 games head of the Dallas Mavericks in the sixth seed in the West, with the seven seed requiring to play their way into the first round.

What's next?

Miami and Portland will each have a night off. The Heat will then head to Phoenix while the Blazers will host the Boston Celtics.

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