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

    Posted 02/26/2010 11:58 AM

    The next stop on the road trip has Portland (34-26) taking a trip to the Windy City to battle Chicago (30-27) in the last regular season meeting between the two teams. Back on November 22nd, the Trail Blazers blitzed the Bulls,122-98, which was their 5th straight win over Chicago and have taken six of the last 10 in the United Center. It is still unclear as to whether center Marcus Camby will suit up at this time, but tonight's game may be a similar situation for Portland as their opponent could be without their best interior player, another trade-off I'm sure the Blazers would make. Bulls center Joakim Noah has been fighting plantar fasciitis, causing him to leave practice this morning for the doctor's office to receive a bone scan. This injury bug has forced Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro to only play Noah about 9 minutes a night since returning during the last three games after missing 7 games earlier this month. Also to note, Luol Deng sat out practice this morning due to a swollen left knee, which will be interesting to see how it affects his play or if it does at all.

    With Portland and Chicago being 24th and 25th in scoring this season at 97.33 and 96.96 respectively, this game is your classic "first to 100" wins. Both teams also win less than 26% of the time when allowing 100 points to their opponent, which further adds fuel to the fire. Assuming Noah can't go tonight, that really puts a damper on the Bulls' chances of getting a lot of 2nd chance points as he is 3rd in the league in offensive rebounds at 3.7 per game and tied for 5th overall in total boards at 11.4. If Portland can find a way to keep Derrick Rose in front of them and force him out of the paint, it may force the Bulls to turn strictly into a jump shooting team. Although Noah is not at the level of Bosh in terms of interior scoring or post moves, he still is their best option when it comes to scoring down low. The other members of the Chicago front-court, Deng, Miller, and Gibson are perimeter oriented players. Hopefully the Trail Blazers can rebound those long misses and get out on the break, which seems to always ignite this team.

    Possessing 6'11" height and a wingspan of 89 inches (7 ft. 5 inches), LaMarcus Aldridge is going to have a major advantage inside against the majority of NBA teams. Tonight is no different. Without Noah or even Noah playing his average of nine minutes, tonight's meal for Aldridge will consist of him feasting on the likes of Brad Miller, Taj Gibson, and Hakim Warrick. Even though LA wasn't shooting it well against Toronto, I still don't think he got enough quality looks in the low-post. Most of his misses were from the outside, but we never came back down to him on the low blocks. With the way Rudy is shooting it from three and Andre slashing to the basket, force Chicago into a Catch-22. Play Aldridge straight up and have him score at will with either a baby hook or his up and under or send the double and watch LA pick the defense apart. I truly believe one of the biggest reasons we have been giving up 15+ point leads has been due to forgetting about LaMarcus on the court. Each half we start out the offense running through him, then the team disremembers him.

    Although not the mot difficult game on the road trip, Memphis wins there, the Chicago game is definitely the most intriguing. I have been very, very reluctant to believe the Blazers could go undefeated on this road trip, because no Blazer team has swept a 5+ game road trip since the 90-91 Trail Blazers won six in a row to end the season and our recent play of late had be worried. I truly believe if we can get a win here, the road trip catapults us up the Western standings. If we lose, a 3-2 trip becomes best case scenario in my opinion and still keeps us afloat for the 8th and final seed. Even though we are only a game out of 6th place, it is due to us having played so many more games but the reality is we are three back in the loss column which, to me, is what matters most.

    I'm completely torn on how I think the game will turnout tonight. On one hand, Derrick Rose is the type of player who can take over a game by himself. He has the ability to score in the paint, pester Andre out top, and control tempo. Deng, although banged up, is still a threat to go off for 25 any night and bench players Jannero Pargo and Hakim Warrick have been known to due some Blazer-killing in their stints with other teams in the NBA. Does Portland's bench show up again? If yes, we win. Our bench, when on, is a top 5 bench in the league. The only problem is we rely on so much young talent to bring in consistently every night, but what young, inexperienced players lack most is consistency. Tonight, I'm banking on Roy, Miller, and Aldridge to do what they do, maybe one has a fantastic night while another performs sub-par, but in the end, those three players' total will average out. I think whatever lit a fire under Rudy's behind is here to stay for the foreseeable future and he will continue to spark our team with flashy, open- court 3's to go along with hot shooting from the perimeter. Rudy alone may be enough production from our bench to win, but I also believe we'll need one of Dante or Jerryd to step up and provide at least double figures in points. With no Noah, the driving lanes are clear of shot blockers so attack at will Bayless!
    Game 61 Prediction: Trail Blazers 103 Bulls 95
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