Trail Blazers/Hornets Pre-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 01/25/2010 1:41 PM

    After earning a 2-2 split on their previous four-game road trip, the Trail Blazers (27-18) head home to the Rose City for a short two-game home-stand, starting off tonight against the Hornets (23-20). Not unlike any other matchup this season to date, this one rides heavily on the availability of key players on both sides. For Portland, guard Jerryd Bayless has been upgraded to probable tonight with a sprained ankle and forward Nicolas Batum wants to play tonight, but the question remains whether or not he can convince Coach Nate to allow him to play. Batum is probable as well, but if he plays, he will not play more than 15 minutes. With Roy's latest re-aggravation of his hamstring, don't be surprised to see Portland be even more cautious in rushing back players from injury. On the New Orleans side, All-Star forward David West is questionable after missing last Saturday's loss in Denver, after he sprained his left ankle in their previous win over Minnesota. Also just reported, the Hornets have agreed to send guard Devin Brown to Chicago for Aaron Gray, which leaves them a little extra shorthanded for tonight's game.

    For no reasonable explanation, Chris Paul does not perform well against the Trail Blazers. His career averages are 19.5 points, 10 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game while shooting 47.5% from the floor. On the other hand, his splits against the Trail Blazers are significantly lower at 13.7 points, 8.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.93 steals per game on only 42.7% shooting. As we all know, the Hornets go as CP3 goes, so slowing him down is obviously a key to victory. One way to minimize Paul's affect on the game is to try to keep him in front of you and not let him wreak havoc in the paint. If West can't go, this would be huge news for Portland, as he is the one who puts up gaudy numbers against us and is always the recipient of a CP3 dime drop. Since 2006-07, New Orleans is 1-5 playing in the Rose Garden, the only win coming last season with Brandon Roy out. Unfortunately, Roy will still be out for tonight's game, but unlike last year, the team is more accustomed to performing without its franchise player.

    How amazing is it that the Trail Blazers still have the 8th best record in the entire NBA and would have home court advantage if the playoffs started today? Pretty damn amazing if you ask me. They still refuse to quit in the face of adversity and defy the odds nearly every night. Even myself, a pretty big optimist, have questioned whether this can last, yet they continue to prove me wrong. These next 10 games before the All-Star break will be crucial for playoff seeding as every team is either at or above .500 and with six of the four at home, the Trail Blazers must protect the home court. Outside of Charlotte coming to the RG on the 1st of February, this games looks like the most winnable, so the Blazers must find a way to get it done tonight. Although 2-2 on the road trip was admirable, the bottom line is they let two very winnable games slip away in the 4th quarter at Washington and Boston. For a team playing with their backs against the wall on a nightly basis, nearly every game close in the 4th must go our way to make the playoffs in the hotly contested Western Conference, where 4th place and 11th is separated by a mere 3 games.

    Whether or not West goes, its a plus for Portland. If he plays, he's arguably not 100%, which could slow him down and if he can't go, take away about 16 and 8 from the Hornets statistics. This is a game where I think can be a little sloppy. The first home game back after a road trip usually have a high probability to be losses as the team is just now settling back home and taking care of personal matters. I don't think this will happen though. The team knows how tight the Western race is and will be up to meet the challenge. What I really like about this matchup is New Orleans' center Emeka Okafor is more of a power forward playing center as he is 6'10", which is comparable to Aldridge and Pendergraph. Also, he is not offensive minded, which should help keep the points in the paint down a bit and allow Portland to play him straight up. With Bayless' ankle probably a bit too tender, don't look for him to go crazy on New Orleans, rather Andre will continue his stellar player and the team will take a ride on the L-Train as he will be unstoppable in the post tonight. A close game early on, turns into a double-digit home team victory!
    Game 46 Prediction: Trail Blazers 101 Hornets 90
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