NBA Preseason: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz -- Game Preview

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Preseason 2012-2013, Game 8:

Portland Trail Blazers (3-3) @ Utah Jazz (4-3)

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The Basics:

This is the last preseason game. You know how I know this is big? I know this is big because this morning my e-mail inbox was flooded with e-mails from bloggers from other teams writing about the upcoming schedule, and to see where we can fit in all of our collaborations. So, yeah. The games count soon. Tonight's game doesn't count though, so I have no clue what to expect.

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History:

Portland housed us last game, man. I don't even want to talk about it. We made it respectable with the bench against their bench -- were down 21 after three, lost by only 6. Nicolas Batum had 27 points against us (5/8 from three, 4/4 from the line), and Damian Lillard added 21 and 8 assists. I was impressed. Less so with our starters. We swept the Blazers last season. We did split the preseason games last year. Let's hope history accurately repeats itself, starting with tonight.

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The Game:

This is the last game that doesn't count. So. Uh. Either the two teams will go with mostly normal lineups, or bench their important guys so they don't get hurt. So . . . . . either we'll get a LOT of Big Al, Mo, etc; or very little. Either way, Enes Kanter needs to finish this preseason strong. And I'd love to see a double double from Derrick Favors. Regardless. Earl Watson is still out for the Jazz.

For Portland . . . man . . . I hope Ronnie Price is back soon. He has the heart of a lion. And the, uh, fight of a robot breakdancing Lion. Essentially what I'm saying is that Ronnie Price is awesome. Logically, LaMarcus Aldridge should be back too. Even if it's just for token minutes of action at the beginning.

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Word from the Badguys:

I'm *really* bad at this . . .

P8_por_at_uta_medium

So yeah, that's kinda what's happening here. Their dudes think they're going to win. (Not if Kanter and Spongebob have anything to say about it) And apparently J.J. Hickson isn't the Hakeem Olajuwon clone he appeared to be in the last meeting between these two teams. So that's good for us in the long run as well.

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X-Factors:

All preseason long the team x-factor has been the three point line. The Jazz have taken more shots than usual from deep (14.3 vs. 12.8). They are making more of their shots from deep than usual (43.0 3pt% vs. 32.3 3pt%). And the Jazz have been defending the three much better than usual (opponent 28.8 3pt% vs. opponent 34.0 3pt%). In the last game against the Blazers they shot 12 for 15 from downtown, making 48.0% of them. In response the Jazz shot 19 threes of their own, but only made 31.6% -- which is a worse rate than what we managed last season. Portland got their threes through ball movement and dribble penetration. These are exactly how the San Antonio Spurs got them against us too.

The point is, if the Jazz return to form for what they've done in the last 7 games in the preseason it could be good for us; if we regress to the larger sample size of the last 70 games -- it's not going to look good at all.

In terms of players, for the Blazers I think it we can't overlook J.J. Hickson, Joel Freeland, and Meyers Leonard. I know I did last game, and they combined for 35 points and 14 rebounds. That's really more than I expected from that group, but with no LaMarcus Aldridge they stepped up. We're supposed to have the dominant inside force, but they showed us.

For the Jazz, I think our X-Factor tonight will be Mo Williams. Is he going to stand around and be out-Mo-Williams-ed by a rookie version of himself?

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As an aside:

It's games like this where I really miss BTS. I hope he's doing good in Houston . . . he seems to be regressing farther and farther away from the super left, easy going, hip, Pacific coast of this country . . . and moving more and more into the Bible Belt. As an aside in this aside, I will pray for him.

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win. Duh. Why? Because we always win at home against the Blazers when they try to win the last game of the preseason. So there. Shut up.

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