Miami, FL, United States (4E Sports) – Center Greg Oden will start against his former team when Miami takes on the Portland Trail Blazers Monday, according to Heat coach Eric Spoelstra.
“I’m sure it’ll be special for him,” Spoelstra said. “This has been a four-year journey for him just to get to this point. He’s put in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes. We couldn’t be happier for him to get to this point.”
The Blazers drafted Oden No. 1 overall in 2007 but injuries limited the promising big man to 82 games before he was waived in 2012.
When asked about his emotions heading into the game, Oden said he is focused on helping the Heat get back on track as the two-time defending champions have dropped seven of their past 11 games.
“It’s a game we need to win,” Oden said. “It’s just about this team and us getting a win right now.”
The Blazers are a different team than the one Oden knew. After a roster turnover in recent years, LaMarcus Aldridge is the only Blazer who played in Oden’s final game in a Portland uniform, on Dec. 5, 2009.
However, it will be difficult for the Heat as Dwyane Wade is doubtful for Monday’s game with a sprained ankle. Spoelstra said Wade suffered the “tweak” last Wednesday against the Celtics and played through the injury Friday against the Grizzlies.
The Heat are 11-7 without Wade this season.