Trail Blazers @ Hornets Game 73 Preview
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 03/27/2010 11:33 AM

     Up next for the red hot Trail Blazers (43-29), winners of 11 of their last 14 games, are the struggling, but dangerous New Orleans Hornets (34-39) as their leader Chris Paul has returned from injury. Both teams have split the two previous meetings to date this season, with each team winning on the others home floor. Portland took the first matchup, 86-78 back on November 13th, behind 20 points and 13 rebounds from Aldridge, while New Orleans stole a sure Portland victory, 98-97, by coming back from 8 down in the final two minutes. It comes down to pride versus aspirations tonight. As their current records stand, Portland can eliminate New Orleans from the playoffs with a victory, and although the best the Hornets can do is delay the inevitable, I'm sure they don't want to get ousted on their home floor. On the other side of the court, Portland must keep their eyes on the prize of moving on up in the playoff standings. A quick two-game road sweep could have the Trail Blazers sitting pretty at the 6th seed out West.

    Trail Blazer fans probably thought, "Of course Chris Paul would return in time to play us!" when CP3 returned a little ahead of schedule from his ankle injury. Have no fear as it could be a blessing in disguise. First off, it means less playing time for outstanding rookie Darren Collison, who put up 18.2 points on 47.3% shooting, 9 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 40 minutes of action over the span of 33 games. Secondly, CP3 is the best point guard in the league, hands down, but this will only be his 3rd game back after a two month hiatus from basketball, which means that not only will he not be as sharp as he'd like to be but the team needs to get acclimated to playing along side of him, which could shake up the chemistry temporarily. Finally, Paul just doesn't play that well against the Trail Blazers. In 15 career games against Portland, CP3's stats pale in comparison to his usual all-world self: 14.4 points, on 43.6 field goal shooting and 27.8% from distance, 8.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds.

    The premier matchup will be the battle of the power forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge vs. David West. Both jump shooting first big men who, on occasion, find their inner ruthlessness and dominate inside. The key to victory for either team is who out-performs one another. Quite frankly, I'd take a push in a heartbeat, as our supporting cast is leaps and bounds more talented than theirs. Just like he defended Dirk, LaMarcus must get physical with West and force him out of his comfort areas on the floor. If he allows West to shoot a couple open mid-range shots and they fall, all of the sudden the tough, contested shots start to drop. He usually gets those open looks off of Paul drives to the hole, so it is imperative the team fights through all screens and keeps the action out of the paint.

    Portland's 12 game streak of scoring 100+ on the road fell hard this past Sunday in Phoenix as they only were able to muster 87 points on a Suns team which gives up a 3rd worst, 106.1 points per game. While New Orleans isn't that generous in allowing the opposition to score, they still rank 10th worst in points allowed at 102.4 per night. Portland is 25-8 when scoring 100 or more, and as cliche as it sounds, if they get to the century mark, they'll win. If not, it could be mean one of two things. First, NO effectively executed a zone defense on us as we failed to bust it with outside shooting. Or, it could just be your classic, sloppy game, where no one can hit the broad side of a barn and turnovers are plentiful, similar to the game back in November between the same teams.

    Its one thing to say score 100+ but how can the Trail Blazers achieve that goal? Look for Dre Miller to run at any opening he sees, but not be reckless about it. I thought the team played a perfect match of uptempo as well as half-court ball in last night's win over Dallas, surely pleasing both Roy and Miller. Brandon was a quiet assassin against Dallas, doing his job in only 7 field goal attempts, as he took what the defense gave him and his teammates were all filling it up, but watch out for him to be in beast mode against NO. With LA going toe to toe with West and the starting back court leading the charge, all the Trail Blazers need is to lock up win #44 is bench productivity, whether it be offensive or defensive. As CP3 returned, it moved Collison to the bench and for whatever reason Morris Peterson starts ahead of Marcus Thornton. I expect the bench to get outplayed by those two, but as long as the bench scoring is within a 6-8 point differential, Portland should be fine. The Trail Blazers looked too good against Dallas to go against them now. They are focused and know what is at stake. Portland will jump out on the Hornets, fight off a couple of valiant comeback attempts, but in the end, sow some killer instinct and swat the bugs away.

    Game 73 Prediction: Trail Blazers 103 Hornets 92

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  1. amiewithaj
    Posts: 1

    Posted 03/27/2010 7:18 PM

    They KILLED New Orleans and Pendergraph got put in!
    I'm so psyched ;D
    I am a fan of the Blazers' suave ability to kill no matter where they play
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