Photo Courtesy of CBSSports.com
After the first week and a half of the season, the Blazers are sitting at 3-2. Following a blazing hot first two games, the team cooled down a little bit. Our recaps by Austin Caudle have covered what happened in the previous games, so go check those out if you missed any games. Below are previews for each of the games over the course of the week, and some storylines to watch.
10/29- Blazers @ Pacers
Coached by former Blazers head coach Nate McMillan, the Pacers are a solid team who play extremely hard. Their defense is in the top echelon of the league, but their offense can be exploited. Victor Oladipo, as good as he is, cannot carry a team by himself. Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic are solid complementary pieces, and while Thad Young is a great defender, he leaves much to be desired on the offensive end. The bench trio of Cory Joseph, Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott provide relief to Oladipo, whether that be playmaking, shooting, or defense. The X-factors for this Indiana team are their big men, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Turner, the team’s starting center, is the better prospect, and just received an extension proving so. However, he has been inconsistent throughout his career, and that has continued into this season. Sabonis, the son of former Blazers Arvydas Sabonis, has been the more productive player, but seems to have a lower ceiling.
Jake Layman will most likely continue to start at the small forward spot, especially with the team announcing that Moe Harkless will miss this game as a result of his persistent knee issues.
Look for the Blazers to attack whoever Darren Collison is guarding, especially if it is CJ, who has been a little inconsistent to start the year.
Jusuf Nurkic has a distinct strength advantage (at least 30 pounds) over Turner and Sabonis. Hopefully he can turn this into a mismatch, allowing the Blazers to get Nurk Fever going early in the game.
The bench units of each team are potent, and should be key in deciding who emerges victorious.
10/30- Blazers @ Rockets
After their tremendous season where they were one game away from earning a spot in the Finals, the Rockets have not looked the same during the first five games of the year. Their big three of Chris Paul, James Harden, Clint Capela, and supersub Eric Gordon have been consistent, but both Paul and Harden have missed time due to injury and suspension. Outside of those three, much of the team has been inconsistent. The team’s forward rotation of PJ Tucker, James Ennis, Carmelo Anthony, and Gerald Green have had good offensive games individually, however they have not been consistent, and outside of Tucker, their defense has been atrocious. The team is not very deep right now, with Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss still waiting to make their season debuts and Harden currently on the shelf, which gives the Blazers a great chance to pull out a win.
James Harden will miss this game due to a hamstring injury.
Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, Zhou Qi, and James Ennis are all nursing various injuries and may miss this game.
Look for Carmelo Anthony and Eric Gordon to take over the scoring load for the Rockets.
11/01- Blazers vs. Pelicans
The Pelicans have opened the season as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Anthony Davis is making his case as the best player in the NBA, and forwards Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle have played so well that these three seem to be the best frontcourt in the NBA as of now. Jrue Holiday has not shot the three ball well to start the year, but is doing everything else for the team. Elfrid Payton has done his best to become this year’s Rajon Rondo and has the numbers to prove it over the first few games. The rest of team’s rotation, E'Twaun Moore, Ian (Blazer killer) Clark, Darius Miller, and Solomon Hill have filled in well, but don’t except these four to maintain the level of productivity that they are experiencing currently. As many of us Blazer fans painfully remember, this re-match of the 2018 NBA playoffs should serve as an opportunity for revenge after the Blazers got swept last year.
Expect Jusuf Nurkic to draw the tall task of defending Anthony Davis. Nurkic struggled heavily during the playoff series, but Davis is almost unguardable.
Davis is a one man wrecking crew, and routinely puts opposing centers in foul trouble. This means that Zach Collins and maybe even Meyers and Chief to have to defend Davis extensively.
The strong Pelicans backcourt defense might continue to create difficult nights for Dame and CJ, so the need of a role player to step up is imperative.
The Blazers bench has a strong advantage over the Pelicans in this game. Expect the bench mob to show up ready to contribute.
11/03- Blazers vs. Lakers
A quick rematch of the exciting season opener should lead to another thrilling game. The Lakers, who are still trying to figure out their identity, have looked increasingly comfortable as they gain game experience. Their youth have seemed to take a step forward over the veterans by providing good levels of shooting and energy, which means a lot of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and even Gonzaga product Johnathan Williams on the floor. JaVale McGee and the ever pesky Rajon Rondo seem to be the only veterans who have established themselves as consistent producers within the rotation. The Lakers have maintained their hyperspeed pace and terrible defense over the early part of the year, so expect another high scoring affair. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the Lakers have this guy named LeBron James. Good luck Chief.
After his season opening performance, the Lakers will probably guard Nik Stauskas a little bit tighter this game.
Based on the last matchup’s game script, Collins should see increased minutes due to his ability to guard in space.
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