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Trail Blazers Wrap-Up Eastern Conference Games With Brooklyn

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0


    On Wednesday night, the Trail Blazers (33-37) come back to the Rose Garden for the first time in five games as they host the Brooklyn Nets (41-29). It is the second and final meeting between the two teams and the game will tip-off at 7:30. It will be televised nationally on ESPN and will also be shown on CSNNW and it can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

     •    The Trail Blazers are now into the homestretch. With 12 games left, the Trail Blazers are still mathematically in the hunt for the eighth playoff spot, as they are 2 1/2 games back in the standings and two games back in the loss column from the Lakers. They have a touch of hope, but it will take quite the run in the final 12 games to turn that hope into something tangible. Eight of the final 12 are at the Rose Garden including games against the three teams that are still battling for the final spot in the Jazz (twice, home on March 29th and away on April 1st), Mavs (at home on April 7th) and Lakers (at home on April 10th). Wednesday's game is also their last game versus the Eastern Conference as the final 11 games are against Western Conference foes.
     •    The previous meeting between these two teams seems long, long ago. It was the first game of the Trail Blazers' longest road trip of the season, which went from the end of November through the beginning of December. The Trail Blazers were also without LaMarcus Aldridge, as Meyers Leonard got the start at center alongside JJ Hickson.  Aldridge's absence was certainly felt on both ends, but especially on the glass. The Nets had a 14-rebound advantage on the night with Reggie Evans grabbing 14 in just under 23 minutes, Kris Humphries getting 14 points and 10 rebounds and Andray Blatche getting 13 points and eight rebounds. Oh, and the team's lone All-Star this season in Brook Lopez had 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Every single big man for the Nets had a night to remember without Aldridge in the middle. Aldridge did not practice on Tuesday as he was feeling ill and was sent to the doctor. Joe Johnson scored 21 points and Deron Williams scored 15 points and dished 12 assists. The Nets were physical with Lillard on a night when he scored 13 points on only four of 12 from the field but also grabbed six rebounds and dished seven assists. Wesley Matthews had 20 points including three three-pointers and Hickson had a solid 19-point, 10-rebound performance. Whether they have Aldridge or not, the Trail Blazers have got to be able to get stops and get out in transition against a slower and slower-paced Brooklyn team. The Nets play at the league's slowest pace, averaging a mere 88 possessions per game. The Trail Blazers must try to do what they did successfully in Chicago and Atlanta by getting stops and getting easy baskets at the rim or threes in transition. One positive for the Trail Blazers is that Victor Claver practiced on Tuesday and could play on Wednesday.
     •    Damian Lillard of course won't admit to it, but he will certainly be looking to atone for the game he had in Brooklyn. Lillard has not looked out of place all season long, but despite the fact he was near a triple-double by game's end, the Brooklyn game seemed like a "Welcome to the NBA" type of game. Dame has not really been rattled this season and he wouldn't admit to being rattled at all, but Brooklyn's physicality took him out of his game. Williams and Johnson are both big guards who play physical defense and can cause problems with their size. The Nets backcourt and their team in general essentially bullied the Trail Blazers in the second half. Lillard has improved greatly since that meeting and I highly doubt he will have an issue with the physicality of Brooklyn this time around. The Trail Blazers in general have to do a better job protecting the glass and matching the Nets toughness from the opening tip. Lillard will be key in setting the tone as the Nets visibly bothered him the last time out. Also, having the Rose Garden crowd behind them always takes the intensity up a notch.

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