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Greg Oden to start for Heat Monday against former team Trail Blazers

Mar 24, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT

As you would expect, Greg Oden tried to play down his starting against the Trail Blazers Monday night.

Portland is the franchise that drafted him No. 1, that bet its future on him, and he played well for them until his body betrayed him and he required multiple knee surgeries. Because it was Kevin Durant taken behind him it was a pick that changed the fortunes of two franchises.

Monday night Oden will start for the Heat as the struggling Trail Blazers come to town but Oden played down the reunion, as was reported by CSNNW.com.

“It’s a game we need to win. We’ve been up and down. It’s just about this team and about us getting a win right now….

“Every game I’ve played is basically a circled date. I’m not trying to look at any team just because I used to play for them. I’m happy to be out there playing against anybody.”

This may have some emotion, but there is no bitterness here — even in Portland most people were rooting for Greg Oden to make it back.

He’s a well liked person who had to go through incredible amounts of rehab and effort just to make it back on the court. He could have walked away from the game with a boatload of money but wanted to play bad enough to fight all the way back. He provides some size that Miami needs come the postseason, especially with the big front line of Indiana looming out there.

Miami has struggled of late, going 4-7 in their last 11, finding they can’t just flip the switch like last season. There are a whole lot of factors that play into it — injuries, Dwyane Wade’s maintenance program, trying larger lineups — but it has LeBron James calling his teammates out. Through this, Eric Spoelstra seems committed to giving Oden the starter’s role and building lineups that way (probably largely with Roy Hibbert and Indiana in mind).

  1. miamiheatles - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Greg Oden is slowly finding his footing. I think him starting will only bring him along more.

    • bougin89 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      I don’t think we’ll really know if Oden is worth anything until the playoffs. He’s been playing OK but he just hasn’t been given/been able to handle enough minutes to make a valid judgement on him yet.

    • kb2408 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      If you consider 4pts and 4 rebs “finding his footing” I guess I agree. I’m happy for G.O. just to have another shot at an NBA career. Without the injuries, I believe he would have bben a sure-fire franchise center. But let’s not go overboard.

  2. beach305 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Currently he is a shadow of his former self. I can’t see any bitterness from the fans

    • casualcommenter - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Agreed with this.

      If Oden was beasting, I’d expect some Portland fans to wonder if he should’ve signed with his old team.

      However, Oden isn’t able to play every game, and when he does play, he’s only able to play around 10 minutes per game. He averages about as many fouls per game (2.2) as rebounds per game (2.3).

      He’s still struggling to justify being a member of a rotation.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        He is not struggling to justify being in the rotation at all. When he’s in there he is absolutely a factor as a rim protector – that is undeniable. How many people have we seen this year try to dunk on him only to get rejected? Plenty.

        He’s averaging 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes, which is a higher rate than his first year. By comparison, Roy Hibbert and Anthony Davis are averaging 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes. Not far off.

        In fact, his per 36 minutes averages aren’t that bad considering his situation – 12.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 1.2 steals.

  3. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    He didn’t seem to care much for Portland the city. That’s fine, now we have a C who is universally loved by the team and community.

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