Cross Posted at Bustabucket.com
The Portland Trail Blazers fairly limped into the All Star break, playing with several injured players out, untested rookies, no Brandon Roy, and registering the most games of all teams at that point of the season. A respectable record they now posses but a tough February and early March will prove a good test of how good the team is.
This week caps off the last third of the NBA season and Blazer fans will see Roy return healthy and much of the rotation become more predictable. To start off the festivities, the deceptively bad Los Angeles Clippers come to town to take on the Blazers Tuesday night at the Rose Garden.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ bad record and front office turmoil cause many to overlook the team, potentially writing them off as an automatic “W”. But the Blazers have struggled in recent years to dominate this Clippers squad, in part because of Baron Davis and more specifically, this season Chris Kaman has been playing out of this world, leading the Clippers with 20 PPG. Although the Clippers are 24th in the league in offensive efficiency, they do hold opponents to below 50% from the field and this could be key for the Blazers, who have recently struggled of late on the offensive end. A problem however, that will most likely resolve itself when Brandon returns to the court.
They key for the Blazers to win this game, will be to maintain their sluggish pace and stick to the half court offensive which is, of course their bread and butter. As for the defensive end, the Blazers will need to hold the Clippers under 90 offensive possessions.
This should turn out to be an easy win, but with a couple days off to rest and relax, many players may come out flat. Let us hope the Blazers provide energy and focus to start the last leg of the long season. To maintain playoff position, every home game must be a win going down the stretch for the Blazers. They cannot let sub-500 opponents come to the Rose Garden and win.
On Friday, the real fun begins, as the Boston Celtics (Ruff Ruff!) are in town. Hopefully Jerryd Bayless plays some minutes, as I am convinced he’s the only person in the entire league who is creative enough, and crazy enough, to counter Garnet’s endearing, in game theatrics. A great, boisterous crow is expected and hopefully the Blazers can match the Celtic’s defensive intensity and treat Portland fans to a huge home win. The Blazers will have to be on point, in every aspect, in order to win this game.
Factors definitely working in the Blazers’ favor this week are the multiple days off between games. After the Clippers’ game, the Blazers will have two full days off, no doubt resting for one and practicing during the other. This will be a time the team can rest physically and prepare themselves mentally for Friday’s match up.
Now, back to the Olympics. Don’t bother me, male figure skating qualifiers are on.
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