Photo via Associated Press (Wilfredo Lee)
The Blazers have had some good fortune recently, winning six of their last seven games, as well as earning some much needed rest after one of the toughest opening stretches in the league. With one more stretch of games left before the All-Star break, it is imperative that the team goes on a strong run to put themselves in a strong position. Thankfully, Rip City will get an extra boost from newly acquired forward Rodney Hood. (For more information about the most recent acquisition, visit our article Blazers acquire Rodney Hood from Cavaliers.) This week will be important not only for the aforementioned momentum, but also to get Hood integrated into the team’s schematics.
02/05- Heat @ Blazers
The Miami Heat have had an up and down year to say the least. After a rough 7-13 stretch to open the year, coach Erik Spoelstra has righted the ship and the Heat are currently holding the 8th seed in the East. While the team has no superstar, the team has had breakout performances from wings Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, the latter of which has found his role as a point forward. For the Blazers to win, they need to overcame the Heat’s tough team defense and mentally shut down Heat center Hassan Whiteside. The teams faced early in the year, with the Heat getting the win due to shutting down all production outside of Damian Lillard. With a more balanced scoring attack, this should not happen again this time around. The Heat do not have much consistent production, rather they shuffle through their depth and try to find the hot hand. Delaying that task will also prove vital to the Blazers win efforts. This is also Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s last matchup against the Blazers. Despite his many highlights against our beloved team, it will be sad to see him go.
02/07- Spurs @ Blazers
The Spurs are yet another team who started the season slowly, but have bounced back to entrench themselves in the playoff picture. After trading Kawhi Leonard, it took time to maximize the midrange production of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge while having enough three point shooting to survive in today’s NBA. The emergence of players such as Derrick White and Bryn Forbes has allowed the team to stay relevant despite a rash of injuries. The key to a Blazers victory will be limiting the amount of threes that the Spurs sharpshooters make. Additionally, Jusuf Nurkic should have a field day against whoever the Spurs throw at him, whether it be Aldridge, Jakob Poetl, or Pau Gasol. I would imagine that Terry Stotts will go inside early and often in this game.
02/10- Blazers @ Mavericks
The Mavericks have Luka Doncic. Doncic is really good. They just got some guy named Kristaps Porzingis. He is also really good.
All jokes aside, the Mavericks have been placed in a huge spotlight after going all in for the former New York Knick. While the team is poised to be a major threat in the future, the rest of the season might be a struggle with Porzingis not expected to play until the start of the 2019-20 season. Last time the two teams matched up, the Mavs were saved by a Luka Doncic fourth quarter explosion. The loss of DeAndre Jordan in the trade now leaves the Mavericks with just Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri , which should give Jusuf Nurkic yet another favorable matchup. Since the Mavericks are entering the game with a much younger team, as well as new acquisitions Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee learning how to fit in with the team on the fly, expect an easy victory for the Blazers.
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