MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the Miami Heat play the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night, one player on the Heat roster will see a former team that drafted him with the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Greg Oden was Portland’s number one pick in the 2007 draft, one spot above Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant. But Oden was never able to live up to his potential with the Trail Blazers because of recurring knee injuries.
Oden was limited to just 82 games in Portland before being released by the team in 2012. Oden sat on the sidelines for the next 18 months before restarting his career with the Miami Heat at the beginning of the current season.
The seven-foot center has progressed to the point that he is now starting for the Heat, although still playing limited minutes and not playing in back-to-back games. It’s all something even Oden may not have imagined just a few years ago.
But for Oden, the game against the Trail Blazers isn’t about him; it’s all about the team.
“It’s a game we need to win,” Oden told ESPN.com. “It’s just about this team and us getting a win right now. I would like to win.”
Getting that victory for the Heat Monday night would be a relief for a team that’s lost seven of its last 11 games. The Heat will be without Dwyane Wade against Portland and this season the team is just 11-7 without Wade in the lineup.
It will also be the first game since Chris Bosh and LeBron James spoke up about the uninspired and lackadaisical play from the team as of late.
The game is also the final tune-up before a highly anticipated matchup with the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers too have been struggling, but Indiana’s problems stem more from worn out players who have been pushing hard all season long.
If the Heat want home-court advantage in the playoffs, the team needs to beat Indiana on Wednesday and then hope Indiana’s spring swoon continues and Miami can kick it into another gear.