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Without Aldridge, Trail Blazers Look For Win In Oakland

03/30/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    On Saturday night the Trail Blazers (33-39) will be in Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors (41-32). Tip-off will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM. LaMarcus Aldridge did not travel with the team to Oakland and will not play.

     
      •    After last night's loss at home to the Jazz, the Trail Blazers still are in 11th place in the Western Conference and are once again 3.5 games back of the final playoff spot. With 10 games left, the odds are slim-to-none to make it in. They still have a shot, and certainly, Damian Lillard will want to make a another good showing in his hometown.
      
     •    Dame put on a show the last time out in his hometown. Lillard, from the Brookfield section of Oakland, scored a career high of 37 points including seven threes on the night. With a barrage of threes and drives late in the game, Lillard helped the Trail Blazers explode offensively in the second half. However, Nicolas Batum was the only other starter to have a decent night, scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds. The Trail Blazers other three starters that night (Hickson, Aldridge, Matthews) shot a combined eight of 34 from the field. The Trail Blazers were down by as much as 20 points and fought hard to stay in the game, but every time they got close, the Warriors had an answer. David Lee scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Carl Landry was effective off the bench with 15 points and seven rebonds.
       
    •    With Aldridge out, this is another opportunity for Meyers Leonard to learn on the fly. Lee and Landry did a lot of damage on the inside against the Trail Blazers in their last visit to Oakland and things will only be more difficult when you factor in that the Warriors now have Andrew Bogut. Bogut is still working himself into shape in attempt to find his former, more dominant form, but he still presents another challenge with his ability to post up and direct traffic from the post. For Leonard, it will be another attempt to face a quality center and, with Aldridge out, he will only get more looks and be called upon to rebound even more.
      
     •    Another question about what the Trail Blazers will do is if the game gets close and how they handle that situation without Aldridge. Last night in the final few minutes of the game, they struggled with turnovers and eventually lost the game on a 23-3 final run by the Jazz. Aldridge is the team's safety blanket in times of trouble and having him to be able to post-up on the left block would have been a remedy to last night's late game chaos. Whether it's getting Batum moving off a screen and getting him going to the basket. Another opportunity, especially against the Warriors could be to use Eric Maynor and Damian Lillard together late in the game so that Lillard can work off the ball. The Warriors like to run two point guards down the stretch with Jarrett Jack and Stephen Curry playing together, with Curry off the ball. So, the match-up will likely allow for this, but it will be interesting to see if they can execute better this time around.

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