Photo via OregonLive
After finally ending a tough December schedule, the Blazers can breathe a little easier after escaping with an 8-7 record. Back in the thick of things within the Western Conference, the team hopes to break out of their inconsistent play and make a charge up the standings. Every game matters this season, and the Blazers must capitalize on every opportunity they get. Who will the Blazers open 2019 with? Find out in this edition of Blazers Weekly Preview.
01/01- Blazers @ Kings
Arguably the most surprising team of the 2018-19 season, the Sacramento Kings have caught the league off guard by a simple idea: speed. Led by De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, the system that Dave Joerger runs is designed to make teams uncomfortable. While their defense is not good by any means, they resemble some of the Nuggets teams of past who just tried to outscore you. For the first time since the early 2000’s, Sacramento basketball is actually fun to watch. While the Blazers should have the edge in the matchup, the Kings have surprised many of the top teams in the league this year, including two close matchups against Golden State, so be sure to tune in and watch. I believe that the Blazers will pull out a close one and start their year off right.
01/04- Thunder @ Blazers
Establishing themselves as one of the top contenders for the second best team in the Western Conference, the Thunder are a collection of athletic, switchable defenders surrounding Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams. This combination has led OKC to have one of the best defenses in the league this season, which has been a major boon to their success. However, this was somewhat expected. What is surprising is how they are converting on the offensive end. Most fans thought it would continue to be the Russell Westbrook show. However, he has surprisingly ceded touches to Dennis Schroder, a sixth man of the year hopeful, and Paul George, who has been playing like a fringe MVP candidate. However, the one weakness for the team is outside shooting, where Paul George is their only above average marksmen. The key to a Blazer victory will be to force the Thunder into taking more threes. The Blazers have had success with the Thunder in the past, and I expect it to continue with another Blazers victory.
01/05- Rockets @ Blazers
Ever since the last matchup between the two teams where the Rockets defeated the Blazers on December 11, the team has gone 9-1. James Harden has rocketed himself back into the MVP conversation with his play. Eric Gordon, despite dealing with injuries, has somewhat rounded back into form and Danuel House Jr. playing well as of late, the Rockets seem to be playing like a playoff contender. Not the almost making the Finals team, but a good enough team where they will be a tough out in any series. One stroke of luck for the Blazers is that the Rockets have been hit with the injury bug, with Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and James Ennis all missing time recently, the hope is that the Blazers can withstand a stand alone James Harden masterpiece. Houston is one of those teams that has had our number this year, and I do not see anything different happening this game.
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