Another big-picture game
The Portland Trail Blazers got a much-needed win against the Boston Celtics Sunday night, but they’ll need to keep momentum going with the Denver Nuggets coming to town Wednesday night.
Matchup: Portland (26-30) vs. Denver Nuggets (36-22)
Venue: Rose Garden Arena
Time: 7:30 PM PT
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2013
The team is in the midst of a four-game home stand, and starting off 2-0 would be a huge accomplishment against two perennial playoff teams.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The good news for Portland is that its been the better defensive team this season. Denver is allowing the fifth-most points per game in the entire NBA, and it has trouble keeping opponents in double digits on a regular basis.
The downside for Portland is that the offensive edge goes to Denver, and it’s not even close.
The Nuggets are putting up an impressive 105.2 points per game. That number is good enough for third in the league, and it’s the reason they win despite their awful defense.
Denver will allow the Blazers to score, but the problem for Portland will be containing the opposing offense. The Blazers have given up a lot of points as of late, and although that trend was broken against the Celtics, Denver is a completely different offensive beast.
Expect lots of points Wednesday night when the two face off on ESPN.
What to Watch: Portland
As alluded to above, Denver is going to let the Blazers get their points; therefore, one of two things needs to happen for Portland to win this game.
Option No. 1 is that the Blazers need to lock down defensively. If they can keep the Nuggets below 100 points, that’s a huge start when it comes to outscoring them.
The other option, as risky as it may be, is to simply try and run them out of the building. If you concede to the idea that Denver is going to score 105 points no matter what you do, focusing on transition points and easy buckets becomes the simplest way to execute the offense.
Which route the Blazers go has yet to be determined, but either way, the national T.V. audience should be in for some great entertainment.
What to Watch: Denver
The last time Denver visited the Rose Garden, it scored a ridiculous 74 points in the paint. That’s a concern for the Blazers, but the truth is, you can live with that number if the road team shoots poorly from long distance.
On Dec. 20, 2013, the Nuggets came into Portland and set a record for the most three-pointers missed without a make. They missed all 22 of their attempts, and the Blazers took full advantage winning 101-93.
The problem for Portland is that it was giving the Nuggets open looks—Denver just wasn’t hitting them.
Don’t expect the Nuggets to go 0-for-22 from deep range ever again. If they had hit just three of those shots the first time around, they win the game by one point. Portland has to defend the three-point line, even if the Nuggets are misfiring.
LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t play like a typical power forward, but he’s far more traditional than second-year player Kenneth Faried.
Faried, a 23-year-old, who’s yet to define his own position, has become one of the most exciting young rebounders in the league. He plays above the rim, he plays in transition and he’s going to give LaMarcus Aldridge a challenge from start to finish.
The worst part about watching Faried come to town is the idea that the Blazers could have drafted him. According to Jason Quick of The Oregonian, Portland told Faried that it would draft him with the No. 21 pick in the 2011 draft. It went on to take Nolan Smith—we all know how well that one’s working out—which is exactly why the big man says, “I ain’t going to lie to you: I don’t like them.”
Faried mentions how he has extra motivation when he plays the Blazers, which doesn’t bode well for a team that struggles stopping big men in the lane.
For the point guard purist, you can’t ignore the battle between two up-and-coming floor generals. Damian Lillard and Ty Lawson will put on a show, but if the Blazers opt to slow the game down, Aldridge should be the one in charge of the offense.
Denver: DAY-TO-DAY—Danilo Gallinari
The current home stretch is an important one for this team’s confidence. A win against Denver won’t be easy, but it will be big when it comes to making a late-season push.