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

    Posted 02/16/2010 3:59 PM

    After a nice, much needed five day break, the Trail Blazers (31-24) start the mythical 2nd half of the season at home for a string of three straight games, starting tonight against the Clippers (21-31). Overshadowing "Roy Watch 2010" was a major trade pulled off between these two exact teams today, sending Marcus Camby to Portland and Travis Outlaw, Steve Blake, and cash considerations to Los Angeles. Due to NBA rules, all parties much take and pass physicals before being cleared to play so none of the three players will be involved in game action tonight, although Marcus Camby will be on the Portland bench. This is the 3rd of a four-game season series between the two teams and to date, the home team has won each match. Portland won 103-99 back on December 30th, behind 25 from Roy, while the Clippers got their revenge just five days later on January 4th, winning handily 105-95, powered by Kaman's 20 points and 8 boards.

    Before the trade was made to net Portland a legit center for the rest of the season, the big question would have been, how do the Blazers respond after such a long break from play? They entered the All-Star break on a huge momentum boost after throttling the stunned Suns, keeping their heads above water in regards to the 8th seed. Now the Portland players must try their best to focus on the task at hand tonight, getting a win. It is always hard bringing in another person into what has become a family atmosphere here in Portland, let alone doing it mid-season, and there is no doubt the fans and fellow Blazers will embrace Marcus Camby with open arms, but Travis and Steve were both very well liked by their teammates. Add to the fact basketball probably hasn't been on the player's minds this weekend, which it really shouldn't be, but how quickly can they change mindsets? An intangible measurement, but it still will be key to see whichever team can shake the All-Star break hangover.

    As a season ticket holder, I make all the home games and have noticed a troubling trend in the Garden; it's got quiet lately! The nationally televised game against the Spurs didn't get rowdy until eight minutes to go in the 4th, it was probably the quietest and most timid Blazer/Laker crowd I've seen since 2000, and really nothing more than a dull roar came from the Thunder game. Could it be the fans are losing hope with Roy out during this stretch or what? Whatever it is, the team needs the fans tonight more than ever! Blazer fans aren't used to mediocre home records (Portland is 18-11 currently) and I'm not blaming the team's poor play at home solely on the crowd, but when your team is undermanned, the fans are the ones to push the guys over the top. If we can get a great, raucous crowd tonight, Portland should be able to pull away.

    Even without Camby, the Clippers still possess two other centers. Chris Kaman is an All-Star and young gun DeAndre Jordan is held in high regard by Clipper management, always shooting down teams trying to acquire him. Also, for one more game this season, Portland is still going to play undersized basketball. They must keep Kaman off of the glass. If he is going to score on jump shots or post up hooks, then so be it, but he thrives on garbage points. Whenever a shot goes up, someone must find him and body him up. If Portland can hold him to a relatively quiet game, around 15 points and 7 rebounds, then I like our chances to win as I don't think Eric Gordon and Baron Davis will each go off for monstrous games.

    With or without Roy, the team will find a way to get it done tonight. Look for LaMarcus to have a huge game tonight, as without Camby the only available Clipper bigs are Kaman and Jordan and both rarely play on the floor together. Along with the L-Train, Dante Cunningham should continue his recent trend of hot shooting off of the bench and his outside shooting should draw bigger Clipper players out of the paint, opening it up for LaMarcus down low. It will be neck and neck the entire way, but a couple of Webster 3's will turn the tide in the favor of the Blazers mid-way through the 4th.
    Game 56 Prediction: Trail Blazers 96 Clippers 88
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