NBA Regular Season Game #21:
Utah Jazz (4-16) @ Portland Trail Blazers (16-3)
I still have PTSD about Terry Porter's three pointers in the WCF in '92
I really did not think the Portland Trail Blazers would be first in the Northwest division, and first in the Western Conference standings at any point in this season. Yet today that is exactly where they stand. I'm not mad about it though. For one, it means that there's another team I did not count on to be better than the Golden State Warriors that currently ARE better (Warriors are 1 game ahead of the #9 team in the West right now, and we own their pick this year). And another thing it means that this is a pretty solid template to follow. Right now four of the five starters for the Blazers are in their physical peaks: LaMarcus, Robin, Wes, and Nic. The fifth starter is last seasons' rookie of the year, Damian. All five of these guys got playing time early in their careers and developed quicker than if they were stuck on the bench watching superstars like Josh Howard screw up 3-1 fast breaks because he was allergic to passing.
Portland had some very hard knocks with their #1 pick Greg Oden being hurt, and then their previous ROY guard Brandon Roy also having a near career ender. But they've dusted themselves off, and toxic deals aside, they've stuck with developing and have seem to be ascending right now at the right time in an "anybody's" western conference.
They are in a number of ways the opposite of our team I guess. Well, not opposites, but are the current inverse of one another. Most obviously in that they are 8-1 at home, and we are 1-9 on the road. They have four times the number of wins we do. And they're doing it with their hot-shot rookie being injured all season long, while we are ostensibly being led by ours.
Tonight's game represents the first game of a two game set at home for the Blazers, and they may be looking ahead to their next opponent the Dallas Mavericks. It's also the first of a two game set for us, but we fly back to Utah tonight and prep for the Sacramento Kings. Fatigue should not be a factor at all as the Jazz already spent a night in Portland. Tonight will be their first meeting this regular season, and in the last three seasons the Jazz are 8-4 against Portland. Historically the Jazz lead the season series 93-72, which looks really good. What looks less good is that the Jazz are getting pounded in Oregon, and have a 27-56 record up in those parts.
Making things worse, because it can't just be statistically bad, is the fact that we'll once again be without "Mad Dog Marvin" Williams. (Dude really should be starting, right?) Hopefully we'll have Elevator Evans back though, because you just don't win games with Mike H playing minutes in the fourth quarter of close games. (More on that later on tonight)
The Blazers have the best offense in the league (by Off RTG), and are #4 in ppg at 105.0; on our side of the ball, we have the 29th best defense in the league (by Def RTG), and give up on average 100.0 ppg. So, yeah. That doesn't look promising. Our offense is ranked poorly as well, while the Blazers are a middle of the pack defensive club. It could be sucky for us. To cheer people up here are some pretty colors!
|7||John Lucas III||1||17||21.1||5.4||1.4||1.6||0.8||2.0||0.3||0.0||6.0||15.3%||12.7%||3.7%|
Okay, their best players play the most minutes. Somehow this is a puzzle to our head coach Tyrone Corbin, but hey, I'm not saying nothing.
Portland is playing very well, and we get the benefit of playing the East's best and then turn around and play the West's best. Lucky us! At least we get to watch more of our quickly gelling core!