Trail Blazers vs. Raptors Preview
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 03/14/2010 2:37 PM

    Trail Blazers vs. Raptors Game 69 Preview

     March 14, 2010. A day Trail Blazer fans have been waiting for patiently since the NBA schedule was released. Tonight embarks the first time Hedo Turkolgu sets foot on the Rose Garden floor since he spurned the Trail Blazers (40-28) only instead to sign with his wife's choice, the Toronto Raptors (32-32). I truly didn't think anything would be able to surpass the level of noise exerted when Darius Miles returned last year with the Grizzlies, yet we may hear an all-time level of anger, frustration, and told-you-so at the RG tonight. See, many Blazer fans didn't want Hedo in the first place or were not upset we didn't end up with him. What pissed off Portlanders and Oregonians is the fact he turned our city down to go somewhere else. We are people who are very loyal to our region and take pride where we come from. If someone doesn't think it is good enough, we take offense. Although Hedo won the battle back on February 24th by scoring a game-high 24 points, Portland won the war by obtaining the 101-87 win.

    Portland has caught some bad breaks this year in terms of playing teams who were scorching hot, but I couldn't have asked for a better time to be playing the Raptors. They are clinging onto the 8th seed in the East after losing eight of their last 10 games, are playing on the 2nd half of a back to back as well as this being their last game of their four-game road trip, and have not won a road game since beating the Nets in New Jersey back on February 19th. While the Raptors are in a free-fall, Portland hasn't been this hot or consistent since winning six in a row back in late November. The Blazers are 8-2 in their last 10 games and Brandon Roy has been awaken by the words of close friend Martell Webster, which has sparked Roy into averaging 29.3 point on 62.7% shooting.

    Even though the statistics say Portland only scores 0.5 more points per game on the road than at home (98.5 to 98), the trends lately suggest a much wider disparity. Over the last 12 road games, the Blazers are en fuego, netting 107 a night compared to 92.6 points per night on the home floor over a similar 12-game span. For whatever reason, Portland has been down right disappointing this year at the Rose Garden. Their 21-13 record at home is 7th worst in the West and lowest winning percentage of all Western Conference playoff teams. We all saw the team flirt with disaster on Tuesday by only scoring 88 on a Kings team which gives up 104.8 points. Toronto possesses an even worse defense, allowing 105.9 points, bad enough for 5th most in the league. If Portland doesn't feel like bringing it for a full 48 tonight, this time they won't be so lucky as to walk away with an ugly win. Just as bad as they are defensively, Toronto is that good on offense, averaging an NBA 4th best 104.4 points, meaning the Raps have enough firepower on offense to sneak up on the Blazers tonight if Portland is in their usual lackadaisical Rose Garden ways.

    There are too many key matchups tonight (Aldridge vs. Bosh, Miller vs. Jack, Batum vs. Turkolgu) to choose from. What did Portland do out of the ordinary over their last two wins? Shot free throws and lots of them. On the season, the Trail Blazers only average 25 attempts at the charity stripe, yet against Golden State they got to the line 37 times and matched it the following night with 32 freebies. Known to shoot too many jump shots for my liking, when I see the Blazers tally 30+ foul shots, it shows me they are being aggressive and assertive in going to the hoop. In some ways, its not the jump shot that upsets me, its the way in which it is being taken. If it comes off of dribble penetration and wide open, I've got absolutely no problem in taking it, but those one-on-one, contested jumpers or the "hot potato" shots where the ball is simply swung around the perimeter with no movement is what irritates me. The Trail Blazers are 3rd best in the NBA by shooting 79.1% from the foul line, and if they get above their average of 25 attempts at the line, it should lead to a Blazers win.

    Toronto will come out fired up after their superstar Chris Bosh erupted in the locker room after the recent performance of his team, but if Portland can withstand the initial burst of energy and effort the Raps come out with, slowly but surely Toronto's will to win will be diminished. It should be a close game heading into the 3rd quarter, then B-roy will take over: mid-range jumpers, slashes to the hoop, spot up threes from distance, and creating for his teammates should turn a close game into a Trail Blazer route. By playing such a weak defensive team, with no interior threats at all, it should be a field day for our scoring-first mentality players such as Rudy, Jerryd, and Martell.

    Game 69 Prediction: Trail Blazers 105 Raptors 91

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