Photo via Sports Illustrated
The Blazers had another rough week, but showed a little hope after a sound defeat of the Toronto Raptors. While some fans are starting to get worried and looking to trade targets, others feel that this is just a blimp in the radar that we are about to pass. This next week will be a great indicator of which way the team is actually going, with another round of matchups against playoff hopefuls. Who can Blazers break their skid against? Find out in this edition of Blazers Weekly Preview.
Blazers @ Clippers- 12/17
After splitting the first games of the year at the Moda Center, the Blazers now have to head over to the Staples Center for the next two matchups. The Clippers have continued their hot start to the year and as of now seem to be a playoff lock. Their team continues to be one of the deepest in the NBA, and Doc Rivers should be considered a Coach of the Year candidate for the job he has done so far. The team is tough to be beat due to the multitude of styles they can play, whether it be uptempo, half-court, or defensive grit. Tobias Harris continues to make his case for the NBA All-Star team, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell both are leading the 6th Man of the Year race, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been better than most people imagined. The key to a Blazers victory will be stopping the Clippers potent bench unit and continuing the ball movement that they showed against the Raptors on Friday.
Grizzlies @ Blazers- 12/19
The new and improved Grizzlies with Kelly Oubre… nevermind. After the #Brooksgate of Friday night, Memphis (thankfully to Blazers fans) will not get the addition that would have made their team even better. However, the team that just defeated the Blazers last Wednesday is still very good. In their last matchup against the Grizzlies, the Blazers were too stagnant with the ball, and in order to get a win, they must be able to score more than 83 points. This starts with the team not letting Lillard get trapped once he crosses the half court, who also will probably not have another performance like he did last week along with Nurkic. Expect this team to be looking for revenge after their lackluster performance.
Jazz @ Blazers- 12/21
After opening the year as a favorite for the 2nd seed in the West, the Jazz have struggled throughout the year. Their defense, while still decent, has been nowhere close to the elite showings that they had last year. When you combine this to the increased pressure on Donovan Mitchell due to the struggles of Joe Ingles and Ricky Rubio, it has led to the team seeming on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conference playoff picture. The key to this Blazer victory in a preview of one of the Christmas games will be containing Donovan Mitchell, as no one else stands out with potential to win the game single handedly for the Jazz.
Mavericks @ Blazers- 12/23
The Blazers will face another team that they faced on their latest road trip in the surging Dallas Mavericks. Led by the energy of Slovenian wonder kid Luka Doncic, the Mavs have gone on a hot streak and are now firmly in the mix for the playoffs. In addition to “Halleluka” taking over Dallas, their supporting cast in Harrison Barnes, Wes Matthews, and DeAndre Jordan has also rounded into form. The team’s bench has also been a surprise. To me, this game will be a battle of the benches, and whichever bench scores the most points should win this game.
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