NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 47:
Portland Trail Blazers (23-22) @ Utah Jazz (25-21)
The Jazz look to make it 5 games in a row over the Jail blazers
This is our first game against the Blazers this season, and a large part of my formative years as a Jazz fan were based upon our titanic battles against them. I'm not a fan and consider this a rivalry game. These are the same old listless Blazers though. They made a lot of changes in the off-season trading away Raymond Felton, Kurt Thomas, and Jon Diebler; losing Jamal Crawford, JOhnny Flynn, Joel Przybilla, and Craig Smith in free agency; and waiving away Dan Gadzuric and Shawne Williams. They did resign Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson. And among the players they added the biggest piece is their super star in the making, young, exciting point guard with ties to Utah himself . . . Ronnie Price. Er, I mean Damian Lillard. Lillard just won his third Western Conference Rookie of the Month award and will be greeted warmed tonight. Some of us still feel like he a) should of been ours, and that our team b) had the parts to move up if we really wanted him that badly. We didn't. We lost a coin flip. Did nothing on draft night. And we're going to face him tonight. You reap what you sow. You eat what you grow. And you get the players your front office works to get. If your front office doesn't put in the work you're stuck with . . . well . . . the Blake Ahearn guards of the world.
We're winning 90-71, and have won 64 of a total 80 at home. That's pretty awesome. In addition we've won the last 4 games in a row. According to the Jazz media guide we're 9-3 against the Blazers in the last three seasons. But, again, this team isn't LIKE the other teams we've faced.
Scouting, Stats, and Stereotypes:
Portland is very average. They take a lot of threes, are great at the FT line, and hardly ever get blocked. Everything else is pretty much average. As such, they don't have any real weaknesses. They have a talented starting lineup of LaMarcus Aldridge (20.7/8.9), J.J. Hickson (12.9, 10.9), Nicolas Batum (16.3, 6.0, 4.9), Wesley Matthews Jr. (15.2, 2,9, 2.7), and Damian Lillard (18.1, 6.5). Beyond that though? Pretty much a horror show. That said, it would really suck if we let Luke Babbitt go off on us or something silly like that.
We're balanced with no stars on the other hand. And we're also a team with strengths and weaknesses. In a way this is going to be a good 'contrast' game for us because it's not like we're playing a great team or a bad team, but one sorely in the middle of it all.
Blazers Injuries --
- Nicolas Batum (SF) Probable -- Batum has a sore right wrist, but I think he'll be ready to go
- Sasha Pavlovic (SF) OUT -- Our former draft pick is out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis in his left foot
- Elliot Williams (SG) OUT -- This guy is still in the league? Well, he's out indefinitely as he recovers from left Achilles surgery
- Victor Claver (SF) Questionable -- Victor is questionable with an undiagnosed illness
- Joel Freeland (PF/C) OUT-ish -- Joel has gastroenteritis, and is expected to miss tonight
Jazz Injuries --
- Mo Williams (PG) OUT -- Mo is out because a) he's recovering from right thumb surgery, and b) his wife has gone into labor with their fifth child
- Gordon Hayward (SG/SF) OUT -- Gordo is out again with a sprained right shoulder, which he sustained a while back
- Raja Bell (SG) OUT -- He just heard about income taxes . . . so . . . yeah . . he's gonna pull a few all-nighters sorting that out.
I expect Batum to play, so Portland has the advantage here. But . . . well . . . you never know. He's kinda hard to pin down like that.
Al Jefferson . . . no one on their team should be able to check him. LaMarcus Aldridge plays the game in a prom dress. J.J. Hickson has skills, but is undisciplined. Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard are both rookies and Al should have his way with both of them. It would be AWESOME to see Al go for 30 tonight, against the "apparent" All-Star LaMarcus. I'm not a fan of him because whenever we play him all he does is take 20 footers and calls himself a power player. In his career against the Jazz (642 minutes in 18 game) he averages 6.4 rpg. You know, about what Matt Harpring used to get as a SF.
Maybe not getting rebounds is like a hipster thing? Hard for me to respect LMA as a) a bigman, and b) an All-Star if he shows up to games against the Jazz in a pink tutu.
I'm calling him a little girl -- hopefully this does not backfire against me. That kind of happens a lot.
The big thing tonight is going to be how the game is officiated, because Portland does not send teams to the FT line, and when we play at home, that's kinda some thing we're used to seeing frequently. I'm not worried about our bench against theirs, or rebounding or whatever. It's going to be a battle of styles. If we can be physical and put them on their heels we'll win this. If we're getting called for a lot of offensive fouls our enthusiasm may work against us. (Like it does on the road)
Word from the Badguys:
Seriously, NEXT week we'll get back to this stuff, working on other projects right now.
As an aside:
Remember Bonzi Wells? Hate that guy. Well, you probably don't remember him and the history books will not either.
Jazz win, why? Because we're at home playing against a team we should beat -- even with our injuries.