Trail Blazers vs Bulls Thursday, 03/21/13 AT 05:00PM

Trail Blazers Look To Turn Trip Around In Chicago

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


    On Thursday night the Portland Trail Blazers (31-36) will look to get their first win of their current five-game road trip when they visit the Chicago Bulls (36-30). Tip-off is set for 5PM on CSNNW and the game can be heard over the air on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM. The Trail Blazers won the first meeting between these two teams in Portland 102-94.

    •    The Trail Blazers were able to survive a high-scoring first quarter by the Bulls and a late Nate Robinson scoring barrage on November 18th to get a win in Portland. The attack was led, mostly by Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews. Batum and Matthews each scored 21 points and combined to his seven three pointers.  For the Bulls, it was Joakim Noah who was, and has been the focal point for their offense. Noah finished with a near triple-double of 16 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. But, fellow French National Team teammate Batum and the Trail Blazers got the best of them. LaMarcus Aldridge also had a very good night against a solid defensive front line, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
     •    Both the Bulls and the Trail Blazers have had dramatic one-point losses on Monday. It appeared as though the Sixers loss lingered for the Trail Blazers but the Bulls have not played since they lost on a basket interference call going against them in overtime. Nate Robinson is coming off one of those nights he seems to have every year, when he went off for 34 points on 22 shots, including six for eight from three-point range. Luol Deng also scored 21 and Joakim Noah had a line typical of him with 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists
      •    The Trail Blazers, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, have got to be better at slowing down their opponents from the outset of games. The problem was not very bad in Milwaukee, but it was exacerbated by their season-worst second quarter. With Kirk Hinrich's availability in question, look for Damian Lillard to take advantage. Lillard had a quiet, yet efficient outing against the Bulls in November with 16 points on seven of 13 shooting when he was guarded by Hinrich most of the night. Nate Robinson is nowhere near the defender that Hinrich is and Lillard should be able to either expose the match up and his ability to shoot over Robinson, set up his teammates, or the most likely option: both. After an off game against the Bucks in Milwaukee when he logged 45 minutes, this game, especially given a favorable match-up, are set up perfectly for a bounce-back game.
     •    The Trail Blazers best opportunity to beat the Bulls in Chicago will be to push the pace. They need stops on defense, but Chicago has a top-five defense of their own and Portland will need to take advantage of situations when Chicago's defense is not set. As we saw in two recent games against the a great defensive team in Memphis, the Trail Blazers perform much better against good defensive teams when they don't allow them to get set and the Trail Blazers can get into their flow easier. The Bulls and Grizzlies are different in the personnels and schemes but the point is, they are good at executing what they try to do. The Trail Blazers succeeded in that against Chicago the last time hitting nine threes and scoring 102 points in the win. They also forced the Bulls into 19 turnovers, which allowed them to get out and run. It will be interesting to see how they will attack the Bulls tomorrow. Trying to contain Noah will be key, but the Trail Blazers also cannot let shooters like Marco Belinelli or Nate Robinson to get hot.

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