On the road again
The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off a 112-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons, and they’re set to kick off a five-game road trip against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Matchup: Portland (31-34) @ Philadelphia 76ers (25-40)
Venue: Wells Fargo Center
Time: 4:00 PM PT
Date: Monday, March 18, 2013
Portland is about to enter a brutal part of the schedule, so any win before April will go a long way by the end of the year.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
Neither the Trail Blazers nor the Sixers are looking like they’ll make the postseason. Philadelphia is eight games behind the eighth seed out East, and the Blazers are competing with the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers for the final spot out West.
Both teams are trying to find their identity, and both should be closer to the postseason when next year rolls around.
Despite being long shots for the playoffs, both squads are continuing to fight. That probably has a lot to do with their youth, as no young team wants to roll over and die just to succeed in the lottery.
If the coaching staff and general managers choose to give the benches more minutes as the season goes on, that’s one thing. But don’t expect anybody on either team to accept that the season is lost with a whole month to play.
What to Watch: Portland
The Sixers enter this game as the second-worst scoring team in the NBA, and a team that focuses on defense night in and night out. If the Blazers allow them to near triple digits, it’s going to be a tough game to win on the road.
Portland has to start by limiting easy buckets. This is not a team that’s going to kill you from behind the arc, but if you allow them open looks, they have shooters who can make you pay.
Points in transition will also be a factor. There’s no better way to establish momentum than with fast-break execution, and the Blazers will have to get back on every possession to force Philly into the half court.
What to Watch: Philadelphia
When it comes to the 76ers, the question night in and night out is, who will help Jrue Holiday?
Philly has a number of respectable players on its squad. Evan Turner is continuing to improve, Thaddeus Young has proven he can score and Spencer Hawes have shown he can impact both sides of the floor when given the chance.
The problem is that they were expecting to have Andrew Bynum on the floor this season, and without him, they’re struggling to score on a regular basis.
If Holiday doesn’t get help come Monday, the odds begin to tilt in Portland’s favor. Locking down defensively will be important for the Blazers, and being prepared for a second scorer will help limit what the Sixers can do on offense.
The last time these two teams met, Damian Lillard was outplayed by fellow point guard Jrue Holiday.
Damian Lillard scored 20 points, but he shot just 8-of-18 and didn’t record a single rebound or assist. Holiday, on the other hand, scored 29 points on 56.5 percent shooting, and he had nine rebounds and nine assists in a near triple-double.
Both of these players have exceeded expectations during the 2012-13 season. Both have taken over their respective offenses, and as a result, they’ve become go-to options in a multitude of situations.
These two will face off again Monday night, and their level of success will have a direct effect on the success of their teams.
Portland: OUT—Sasha Pavlovic, Victor Claver
Philadelphia: DAY-TO-DAY—Nick Young
The Blazers will be challenged on the road, but the young players on the roster still have their eyes on the prize—the 2013 postseason.