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After an extremely disappointing week where the Blazers went 1-3, concern for the team is starting to rise, especially with the team in the midst of a 3 game losing streak. The hope is that the team just needs a much needed break after a long trip, but only time will tell. Who are the teams that the Blazers look to get back on track against. Find out in this edition of Blazers Weekly Preview. 11/28- Magic at Blazers The Magic have emerged as a surprising playoff contender in the East. While many writers, including myself, thought that the Magic would finally fully commit to a rebuild, this has not been the case. Led by Nikola Vucevic who has been playing like an All-Star during the first quarter of the year, the Magic have found new life. The Magic have also found surprise contributions from the likes of Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, and DJ Augustin. The key to success has seemed to be a stingy defense led by Steve Clifford and previously non existent outside shooting. The Magic did have a similar hot start last year and once again ended up in the lottery, but this team seems to be more legit. The key to a Blazers victory will be our backcourt. While defense is a strength for the team, their guards can be exploited. Look for Dame and CJ to have big nights offensively.
11/30- Nuggets at Blazers This matchup with a fellow Northwest Division heavyweight is sure to be one to watch. Both teams have surprised by getting off to hot starts, and each have cooled off a little bit recently. The Nuggets are led by Nikola Jokic, an offensive wonder that seems to be the next coming of Arvydas Sabonis. Surrounded by two way stalwarts such as Paul Millsap and Gary Harris, their well known high octane offense was partnered with an elite defense to open the year. Since then, a combination of injuries and uncertainty with roles has plagued the team. With both teams looking to get back to their hot starts, expect a dog fight. To win this game, the Blazers need to limit contributions from secondary contributors such as Jamal Murray and their potent bench. 12/2- Blazers at Spurs This is the second matchup between the Blazers and the always dangerous Spurs, with San Antonio looking to even the series up. While it is tough to count out a Gregg Popovich coached team, there are severe flaws on the 2018-19, and it has showed in their record. Led by DeMar DeRozan and our old friend LaMarcus Aldridge, the offense is a throwback to the past, heavily concentrated on the mid range. Additionally, their team defense is no longer among the league’s elite, inching towards the bottom of the rankings. Their previous strength of having depth is no longer present, as injuries to the likes of DeJounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV have depleted the team. The Blazers have seemed to have been able to defend Aldridge well, so the main focus should be stopping DeRozan and winning the bench battle.
The Blazers have slid in the past week. In order to get back on track and not lose any more games in the tight Western Conference, it is imperative for the team to improve the issues that have plagued them, which includes defensive intensity and getting out of their seemingly collective shooting slump, especially from the bench. Hopefully the integration of Moe Harkless back into the rotation will give the spark that this team needs.
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