Can They End on a Strong Note?
The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to win games down the stretch. They are currently on an 11-game losing streak, but they will look to end the season on a strong note in their final two contests.
Matchup: Portland (33-47) @ Los Angeles (54-26)
Venue: STAPLES Center
Time: 7:30 PM PT
Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Blazers will have their hands full against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers have only lost nine games at STAPLES Center this season, including all games played against their city rival Los Angeles Lakers.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The Blazers have been playing without starters Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and JJ Hickson for most of their current skid. They have started lineups that have often featured four rookies.
The soon-to-be Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard, has carried the load with most of their starters missing time. He may have the chance to play against Chauncey Billups. Billups is a guy who Lillard reminds me of with his poise, demeanor and shooting ability, mixed with a little bit of Derrick Rose with his explosiveness, quickness and ability to finish at the rim.
The Clippers could play their bench a little more in this one to get players ready if they need to be called on during the playoffs.
What to Watch: Portland
They need a win. They really do.
The other rookies and bench players have been impressive at times. Will Barton is coming alive as a scoring threat as of late. I am starting to become a fan of this guy. He still needs a little work, but with the right opportunity, he can become a solid bench player for this team.
Meyers Leonard has also shown his offensive ability and is starting to look more comfortable out there. At times he still looks very lost defensively, though.
The development of these guys is more important than wins at this point, but a win against the Clips would be fun.
What to Watch: L.A. Clippers
It will be interesting to see if the Clippers play more of a bench-heavy squad as the Blazers have been. The Clippers own the tie breaker over the Memphis Grizzlies, who they are currently tied with for home-court advantage in their upcoming first round matchup.
If this game gets out of reach early, I see them playing more bench players. If Portland keeps it close, the Clippers will be forced to play their starters. That home court will be much needed against a tough Grizzlies team.
The playoffs are going to be fun to watch over here on the West Coast. Not so much on the East – at least until they get to the second round.
It’s hard to say who is going to sit out with so many starters listed day-to-day for the Blazers. So I am going to go with Meyers Leonard against any and every Clippers big man. He is likely to be on DeAndre Jordan for most of the night.
I want to see Leonard not get lost on defense and allow an abundance of alley-oop dunks. Honestly, I would applaud him even if he gets posterized because that would be an improvement to his defense. He gets so lost that he becomes nowhere near his man at times.
He would then have to posterize someone else if that does in fact happen. Maybe he could do so against an ex-Blazer in Jamal Crawford? I’m sure a stare down of him would be appreciated by Blazers fans.
L.A. Clippers: DAY-TO-DAY – Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler
As much as I want to say the losing streak will end, my brain just won’t let me. The Clippers have been too good at home this season and the Blazers have too many question marks in their starting lineup.