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

    Posted 02/23/2010 12:49 PM

    After a frustrating letdown against the Jazz on Sunday, the Trail Blazers (32-26) must find a way to put that loss aside and focus on the upcoming task at hand, which is their last extended road trip of the season. First up are the 5-51 New Jersey Nets. By Nets standards, they haven't been half bad lately, winning their opening game after the All-Star break in Charlotte, only losing by three to Miami, leading much of their match with Memphis before faltering by 10, and their only typical Nets loss of the year, during this stretch, was a 17 point drubbing handed down by Toronto. Mix in the fact Portland is in the midst of a two-game losing streak and coming off of the most embarrassing, heart breaking loss in recent memory there could be a perfect storm brewing tonight in Jersey.

    For a Portland team used to playing in front of 20,000 BlazerManiacs at home, they will definitely have to find a way to generate their own energy tonight, as the Nets draw the least amount of fans per game on average in the NBA, at 13,009. The biggest key tonight will be the Trail Blazers focus level. Will they still be on a Utah hangover or have they brushed it aside from their memory banks and are ready to take care of business against New Jersey? They must come out early and assert their dominance. It must be made crystal clear to New Jersey they are not getting win #6 tonight, killing all of the Nets' confidence. Another factor has to be fear. This has already been an awful season, where literally everything has gone wrong, but could the team be fearful of being embarrassed if they lose to the lowly Nets? Portland can not play not to lose, but only to win. If they play tight and scared, it could be a devastating evening on the East coast.

    Going into the season, few experts thought much of the Nets or even them challenging for a playoff spot in the weaker Eastern Conference, but I can't imagine anyone predicting New Jersey threatening to break the '72-73 Sixers record of 9-73. On paper, the Nets are decent. They have an All-Star caliber center in Brook Lopez who would have been an All-Star had New Jersey's record reflected something other than a monstrosity. I would have been a LOT more worried about this game had Portland not gone out and acquired Marcus Camby, because Lopez would have been too much to contain going up against Juwan in the post. Brook held more than his own against Greg and Joel earlier this year, during Portland's 93-83 win in the Rose Garden, as he put up 32 points and 14 rebounds. Although Camby places the Trail Blazers in better shape to contain Lopez, I still think he can have another big night as long as the Nets make a conscious effort to run their offense through them. When a team is doing as poorly as they are and all hopes of post-season play have flown out the window months ago, players tend to audition for other teams or future contracts and "get theirs" instead of making the proper reads throughout the game.

    With the Nets averaging a league-worst 90 points per game, holding them in check on 2nd chance points, points off of turnovers, and fast break points are a must if the Blazers want to get a nice head start on their road trip. The way Utah got back into the game was on the offensive glass. Portland must be cognitive of this and put a body on everyone in the paint. Rebounding is all about effort and, more times than not, whomever wants the ball more, gets it. I've been extremely proud of LaMarcus this year on the glass, as he has boosted his average up to 8.4. Defensive rebounding needs to be Aldridge and Camby's M.O. tonight; everything else is gravy. The key to initiating your tempo on the game is to control the backboards. The only way to take advantage of the fast break is to clean up the defensive glass and if we can work the offensive boards time and time again, sooner or later, the Nets will throw in the towel.

    Lopez gets all the pub for New Jersey, however much that may be, but do not forget about Devin Harris. After a terrible start to the season, Devin Harris has quickly turned his game around in the month of February and the 09 All-Star has the ability to take over games by himself. During this month, he is putting up 19.4 points, on 43.3% shooting, 9.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. The X-Factor tonight for Portland will be getting off to a quick start and the bench providing a shot in the arm the team desperately needs. Unfortunately, I have an awful feeling about tonight's game, in the sense we will get off to a lackadaisical start and not bring it 100%. Had we held on to beat Utah, this would be a sure-fire win, but the fact the Nets have shown signs of life lately and we could be in pity-party mode, New Jersey will get win #6.
    Game 59 Prediction: Trail Blazers 86 Nets 89
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  1. BR7_Fan
    Posts: 399

    Posted 02/23/2010 4:35 PM

    On paper, we should get the win and crush the Nets but the way the team has been playing, its a coin toss which side will the Blazers show tonight? I'm hoping its the side with the W on it not the L.
    I am a fan of RIP CITY > LOB CITY
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