Trail Blazers @ Clippers: Game 78 Preview
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 04/07/2010 11:54 AM

    After yet another three-day layoff, Portland (47-30) heads back out onto the road again to take on the struggling, but dangerous Los Angeles Clippers (27-50). The Trail Blazers are 2-1 against the Clipshow this season with each team protecting home court, including the most recent 109-87 Blazers victory on February 16th. Like most matchups down the stretch, it feels like it should be the first meeting of the season due to all the changes Portland has gone through as well as the opponent. Although three games are in the record books, this will be the first time Los Angeles sees Camby in the red and black while it'll be the first time the Blazers see their friends and former teammates, Outlaw and Blake, standing in the opposite huddle. Portland may catch a break tonight though as Travis is listed questionable for tonight's affair with a strained right groin.

    As there are only five games remaining in the 2010 regular season, there is absolutely no margin for error when trying to move up in the standings. Personally, tonight's game is the scariest left on the schedule, because we should be favored to win the last three home games and most everyone will predict us to lose against the Lakers, so this game is sort of a wild card. It seems like games in the Staples Center against LAC are nail-biters, unpredictable down to the final possession. Not to mention the Clippers are a talented bunch, sporting past and present All-Stars in Baron Davis and Chris Kaman, a young pure scorer in Eric Gordon, and sharpshooting Rasual Butler. As it is with all non-playoff teams, it will be key for the Trail Blazers to get out to a hot start and, at the bare minimum, keep the game within three-five points through the first half until the team gets into their rhythm.

    With all the weapons Los Angeles obtains, it may be hard to single one player out to neutralize, but their squad seems to go as Chris Kaman goes. In the last Blazers thrashing of the Clippers right after the trade deadline, Juwan and LaMarcus absolutely negated anything Kaman tried to get going. I doubt he puts up 4 points (1-6), 8 rebounds, and 7 turnovers again, but the Blazers do have another asset to throw at him in Marcus Camby. What Coach Nate did brilliantly that night in his scheme against Kaman were the constant, unpredictable double teams thrown every which way. One flaw in his game is decision making under pressure, so look for more traps, double downs, and mixed coverages thrown at Kaman throughout the game to take him out of his offensive flow and force turnovers, hopefully leading to fast break points the other way. Finally, the Blazer bigs must put a body on him as each shots goes up. If we are confusing him with the defensive strategies, then the only other way to get into a rhythm is by crashing the glass and getting cheap, garbage points. The responsibilities don't all simply fall on Aldridge, Howard, and Camby, because if they are focusing only on boxing out Kaman, than the guards and small forwards must crash the boards hard to keep the other Clippers out. It sounds simple, but how many times have we seen a big do his job and keep the opposition's most prolific rebounder out of the way only to see a guard blow their assignment? Too many.

    Tonight Brandon needs to channel his inner Kobe Bryant and do work on the blocks. Defending him will be the much smaller Eric Gordon and not only is he at a height disadvantage by being three inches shorter but Gordon's M.O. is offense and probably hasn't heard the word defense mentioned in practice since November before their season went south. Gordon won't want any part of Roy so it's up to Brandon to just calmly take advantage and dissect the defense. If they allow the single coverage, Roy should be able to rise above Gordon and if they want to send doubles, Roy is talented enough to find the open man. It could all come down to the Trail Blazer role players shooting the ball tonight, because I just can't fathom any coach letting Gordon try to handle a player of Roy's caliber one on one.

    As worrisome as tonight's game is, the added veteran leadership just won't let us down tonight. If any added motivation was needed, the boys should know OKC lost last night and there is a great chance they could find themselves in 6th place after Wednesday is over and done with. Andre has been there all season when we need him for a boost, Camby should cancel out Kaman on the boards, and hopefully Juwan is healthy enough to provide our bench some offensive production. Watch out for Nico to have another huge night. Those double teams sent at Aldridge and Roy should leave him wide open for jump shots and possibly even some plays being ran for him in the 2nd half if his shot is dropping. If Marty is completely off again tonight, it would be nice to see Batum log 35+ minutes tonight, because not only will the offense be needed to pick up for the bench, but Butler is not joke from downtown and Nico needs to make his life miserable. I still think the bench will struggle but it won't be enough to derail the Trail Blazer train.

    Game 78 Prediction: Trail Blazers 103 Clippers 96
    VIDEO: Coach, Camby, & Batum Preivew The Clippers
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  1. BR7_Fan
    Posts: 399

    Posted 04/07/2010 5:29 PM

    I'm sure the Clippers would love to play spoiler tonight and give us a loss but I think this team is pretty dialed in and if everyone steps up and does what there suppose to do we should walk out of the Staples Center with a W. I would like Nate to start to short up the bench and start running whatever kind of minutes he's gonna give out for the playoffs soon, make sure that rotation is ready before game one.
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