Getting Back on Track
The Portland Trail Blazers have had a day to regroup after a rough start to their current 5-game road trip. The opportunity to make the playoffs is still there, but it is slowly slipping away. They currently sit four games back of the final spot in the playoffs. Dallas and Utah are both ahead of Portland and are also trying to claim that last playoff spot.
Matchup: Portland (31-36) @ Chicago (36-30)
Venue: United Center
Time: 5:00 PM PT
Date: Thursday, March 21, 2013
If the Blazers truly wish to compete for this playoff spot, they must win on the road. Of the 15 remaining games on their schedule, 7 of them are on the road. They’re not going to pick up games on those ahead of them by just winning their home games.
They are set to take on Chicago tonight at the United Center.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
It’s no secret that the Blazers haven’t played well on the road this season. Their home and away records look like polar opposites (22-11 at home and 9-25 on the road).
Chicago has struggled to score this season with the absence of Derrick Rose. Portland has played well against Chicago in the past. This could be their chance to back in the win column.
It will take a great offensive effort for them to win this game. No matter who’s on the flour, head coach Tom Thibodeau has his team playing great defense this season and only allowing 92.3 points a game.
What To Watch: Portland
Damian Lillard must be aggressive early and often. Lillard had an off night the other night against Milwaukee. That shouldn’t shy him away from looking to score big in this one. The last game that he scored less than 10 points, he followed it up with a 33 point performance against the Miami Heat.
Chicago will most likely be without Kirk Hinrich, who has missed the past seven games with a sore right foot. That leaves Nate Robinson to cover Lillard. I like the Blazers’ chances with this match up. Look for Lillard to have a big game.
What To Watch: Chicago
In the last seven games, while playing without starter and Derrick Rose‘s season long replacement, Kirk Hinich, the Bulls have gone 2-5.
However, the past two games have been better for them. All five of their starters have scored in double digits in the last two games and their overage offensive production has been solid, scoring over 100 points in each of those games.
I don’t see those numbers staying the same. This isn’t a high potent offense on paper. Their current starting rotation doesn’t scream out offensive numbers. Carlos Boozer is old and steadily declining. Joakim Noah has had some 20 point games this season, but he’s more known for his defensive prowess.
Luol Deng is their leading scorer and probably their only true scoring threat.
Marco Belinelli is a good shooter, but as long as you don’t let him get open shots, he won’t hurt you. Nate Robinson is a decent scorer, he can score when given the opportunity, which is a situation he’s in right now.
If they can keep these offensive numbers up then it could be a long night for Portland
For this game, I will be watching Nicolas Batum versus Luol Deng.
As I mentioned earlier, Deng is Chicago’s leading scorer. Portland will need Nic’s defense to slow him down. The last time these two met, Nic held Deng to 14 points and scored 21 of his own. They will need a similar performance in tonight’s game in hopes of a victory.
Chicago: OUT—Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton DOUTFUL—Kirk Hinrich QUESTIONABLE—Taj Gibson
Chicago’s offensive won’t continue to keep up with their recent production. Lillard will have a great night. Portland takes this one, if only to keep the fans faith alive as they try to make the playoffs.