While they do not have the best record in the Eastern Conference, there is no confusion about the Miami Heat's place in the pecking order.
"You know even though they don't have the best record in the East or whatever, I think everybody still puts them at the top," said Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.
The Heat are the two-time champions and they have the best player in the NBA, four-time MVP-winner LeBron James, in the middle of his prime.
The Trail Blazers' first meeting with Miami last year was a thrilling comeback.
Their second meeting happened as the Blazers were on a downturn and Miami was in the midst of their historic 27-game winning streak.
The Heat won another championship with James' rising again in an epic NBA Finals with his legend continuing to grow.
However, since the two teams last met, the Blazers have changed and are no longer just a plucky young team taking shot against the champs.
"We've found a way to get it done against them (other elite teams), and tomorrow it will be another test. We're looking forward to the challenge," Damian Lillard said.
"It will be a good test for us but we've had a few good tests in the past," Stotts said.
This Blazers team has been tested many times by contenders and has gone 5-1 in games against teams with at least 20 wins.
Last year, they played in close games, but almost always by virtue of a comeback from having let the game slip away earlier.
Last year they rode early season success in close games spurred by their comebacks, until those comebacks ran out of gas as the season progressed.
They are winning close games, but they are not having to comeback as they used to.
Now the Blazers have been the ones in control.
"The game never gets away from us," Lillard said. "If anything we've had the lead and the teams find their way back into it. And we've won a lot of them."
The Blazers and Heat come in as the league's two most efficient offenses, and both Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum will have the duties of guarding James.
"Like any great player you just do the best you can," Stotts said. "He may take a possession off on offense but you can't take a possession off on defense because the minutes you do, you pay for it."
Last season was Lillard's first time facing James — and he learned after facing him how he controls the game.
"I knew he was a good passer, but I hadn't seen anybody control the game with how he passes the ball," Lillard said. "That was impressive, and he knew calls — just how smart he was."
The Blazers have been successful at controlling games most of the year, now they just have to do it against the player controls the game better than anybody in the NBA.