In another installment of the Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on the storylines before the Heat (27-7) take on the Blazers (18-17).
1. Fact or Fiction: Miami's one-week layoff was too long.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. As the great baseball mind Earl Weaver once said, "Momentum is the next starting pitcher." Insert "opponent" for "starting pitcher" and Weaver summed up my feelings on Miami's situation. I don't really believe in momentum, but I do believe that Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem -- still getting their legs back -- loved the time off.
Michael Wallace: Fiction. Considering this breakneck schedule, this was a much-needed layoff for the Heat. It gave them ample time to regroup and then prepare themselves to fly across the country for this three-game West swing. This season's truncated slate doesn't extend many favors, but the Heat should benefit from one here.
Brian Windhorst: Fact. If only because the Heat were already ripe for a letdown. Eight straight wins by at least 12 points, first game of a West Coast trip, first game after a week off. All of these are ingredients that can lead to a dud. Though the Heat must be given credit that they have shown good focus for the past month.
2. Fact or Fiction: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have put the All-Star drama behind them.
Haberstroh: Fact. LeBron and Wade probably got over it the night they left Orlando, but pockets of the media insist they suffered life-changing events. Anyone who's played a contact sport knows that inadvertent broken noses happen all the time. And LeBron's deference in the final minute? It's a story becau- zzz...
Wallace: Fact. Regardless of how long the storylines linger -- from LeBron's late-game decisions to Wade's hard foul that broke Kobe's nose -- the Heat put those issues behind them once they departed Orlando. Of course, it will be difficult to avoid rehashing them a bit when the Heat visit the Lakers and their suddenly masked man on Sunday.
Windhorst: Fact. I think they're already there. Now, will everyone else let it go? Most likely no.
3. Fact or Fiction: Portland will be the "easiest" game of the upcoming three.
Haberstroh: Fact. Portland is no cakewalk, but neither is Utah on a back-to-back or the Lakers at the Staples Center. The Heat could roll into Kobe-land with a 10-game winning streak but could just as easily get bitten by two tough West opponents. Should be fascinating to see if the Heat pick up where they left off.
Wallace: Fiction. I'm not sure any will be easy. But Portland is streaky and athletic enough to present some problems for Miami, specifically at home. On paper, it appears the game at Utah will be slightly less challenging for the Heat in terms of matchups -- even on a back-to-back. Then again, Miami has handled the Lakers pretty well with LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh.
Windhorst: Fact. Portland is historically a difficult place to play because of the crowd. However, the Blazers have not been playing well lately, their point guard and coach have been at odds, and they're coming off a back-to-back while the Heat waited for them in their city.