Mack’s prediction, the Blazers will win in L.A.; Against the Clippers.
The Blazers, however, will not defeat the Lakers. Even their own center, Joel Przybilla, doesn’t have high hopes. When asked about playing against the Lakers he said, “They’ve maintained strong play throughout the year. We need to get some wins, and it would be a good one for us to start there, but we know it will be very hard to get that done.” He doesn’t sound too confident. Maybe he doesn’t think this time around the Blazers will win, but maybe next time they will.
Sorry Joel, probably not next time either.
Tonight’s match up is the first of four the Lakers have with the Blazers this season so it will be interesting to see how they play each other. Personally, I don’t think the Blazers have a chance. One reason is because their star player, SG Brandon Roy is out with a sprained ankle. Roy says he initially sprained it against Dallas on February 13th, but aggravated it midway through the third quarter in Sunday’s beat down against the “BAH-ston” Celtics. With the injury to Brandon Roy, Nate McMillan will be trying a new lineup, again helping the Lakers’ cause. He will be running with Martell Webster at the two and the up and coming Travis Outlaw taking over the 3.
The Blazers are not playing to well right now averaging 95.28 points a game. A Blazer fan might say, “Hey! That’s not bad, San Antonio is averaging 96.27 points a game, just a point more!” But then I would show them at San Antonio is also allowing only 91.13 points a game from their opponents. The Blazers on the other hand are allowing 95.96 ppg; which is actually MORE points than they average.
They have lost their last two games and with a loss in Los Angeles, they will be one game over .500.
These two teams are going in opposite directions. The Lakers are in the midst of an 8 game winning streak, winning 9 of their last 10 games. The Lakers are averaging a colossal 107.98 ppg while allowing only 100.83 per game. That’s a difference of +7.14. Only the Pistons and the Celtics have a better differential.
The Lakers are also forth in Assists and third in field goal percentage. Seriously, until the middle of March, I don’t even see them being challenged by the teams they will face. I just hope the injury bug stays away.
Has anyone else seen this video breaking down Pau Gasol’s game and impact on the Lakers? I just saw it the other day and I was so giddy I jumped out of my chair at my desk and busted my knee on one of the drawers. I would call that video “required viewing” for any Lakers fan and if you haven’t seen it, I’m going to stick my cousin Jay on you. You wouldn’t like that, oh no, you wouldn’t.
Here’s the link, don’t say I never gave you anything…
Ok, enough of all the small talk; let’s get to (drum roll please)…
What the Blazers will want to do -
Offense: The Blazers HAD a great weapon with Brandon Roy, but since he is on the bench, coach McMillan will be running plays for LaMarcus Aldridge; his second option. LaMarcus is tall, long, and strong at the PF position, so look for him to get down low and use his length against Odom. If Aldridge is under pressure, look for the Blazers to go to 5th year vet Travis Outlaw who is definitely coming into his own this year.
Defense: Well, this will be hard. The Blazers really don’t have a good defense. They don’t rebound and they don’t cause turnovers. So I see them double teaming the Lakers a lot; trying to get the ball out of Kobe’s, Gasol’s, um… let’s see, Fisher’s, and Lamar’s hands. That means make sure Vlad and Luke dribble!
What the Lakers will want to do -
Offense: Keep up the good work. The Lakers have been passing the ball like the Phoenix Suns this year. If they keep this up, the only way for the opposition to stop them will be to tackle who ever has the ball, that’s right, the Blazers will have to play like Bill Laimbeer. This might also be a great game for some showtime moves on the fast break. As I said above, the Blazers don’t rebound; so look for some dunks and alley-oops.
One last thing, remember last year’s final game against the Blazers, Kobe put up 65 points? That was the most any player had put up against Portland in the team’s history. I’m just sayin’…
Defense: Stay in front and clog the middle. The Blazers like to drive to the rim but without Roy, it will be a tough night for them. Look for the Lakers to remain in the passing lanes and take chances to cause turnovers. Although the Blazers have been hot this year, right now they are definitely not and the Lakers will take advantage.
Projected Starters -
Blazers: Steve Blake / Martell Webster / Travis Outlaw / LaMarcus Aldridge / Joel Przybilla
Lakers: Derek Fisher / Kobe Bryant / Luuuuke / Lamar Odom / Pau Gasol
Interesting Match Up:
LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Lamar Odom
Amber’s Game Prediction: Alert! When I asked Amber who would win tonight’s game, she yelled, “Lakers!” about 21 times. Does that mean the Lakers will win the next 21 games or that they will win by 21 points? I’m still investigating…
Mack’s Game Prediction: Oh come on! Lakers baby!
Amber’s Scorecard: 9 – 0
Mack’s Scorecard: 4 – 0
Next 3 games: vs. Miami, @ Portland, vs. Dallas
Game Preview Questions for Discussion -
1. Will Kobe need to score 65? If so, why? If not, why?
2. Will we be seeing the emergence of a new Lakers fan site named, “DontneedGarnett.com”?
Game Time: 7:30 PM Lakers Standard Time
Local Broadcast: FSN HD
National Broadcast: NBA TV HD
Radio: KLAC & KWKW