Pinwheel Empire is a social Blazers site which aims to bring fans together in a unique and new community. It's run by a bunch of volunteer gerbils all over the world. We're new, trying to cross the Rubicon and do something different – it's an evolving process with a lot of small victories and defeats.
Team Records: Brooklyn (41-29) at Portland (33-37)
Game Info: 7:30 PM-TV on ESPN/KGW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: James Capers, Leroy Richardson, Eddie F Rush
The Skinny: The Blazers return home from a 2-3 road trip to face a Brooklyn team that is still trying to catch the Knicks for the Atlantic Division crown. It has not exactly been the smoothest season for the Nets, as they have been very inconsistent. This is the fifth game in an eight game road swing for the Nets, and they are 3-1 so far on this trip.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers hung with the Nets through three quarters but fell off in the fourth as Brooklyn’s depth wore the Blazers down.
Projected Nets Lineup:
PF-Reggie Evans (Iowa-11th Season)-3.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG, .6 APG.
SF-Gerald Wallace (Alabama-12th Season)-8.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.6 APG.
C-Brook Lopez (Stanford-5th Season)-19 PPG, 7 RPG, 1 APG
SG-Joe Johnson (Arkansas-12th Season)-16.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.6 APG.
PG-Deron Williams (Illinois-8th Season)-18.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.7 APG.
Player to Watch-Brook Lopez (pictured at right)-When you look at Brook Lopez you see everything you want in an NBA center, height, reasonable size and good instincts. However, Lopez, had for a number of reasons, not least among them injuries, been unable to put together a complete season so far. His rebounding is still a bit below where it should be, although its way up from the last few years and his defense is bad beyond his shot blocking but he was an allstar for a reason this year. Lopez, when he’s on, is a very good offensive player and is a key reasons why the Nets hope to make a playoff run this year.
Did You Know?: The Nets next road win this season will be their 20th, which will tie their team record for road wins in a season.
Song of the Day: “Brooklyn’s Finest” by Jay Z featuring Notorious BIG-Jay Z is, of course, a minority owner of the Nets and so it makes sense to use one of his best songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Illness).
Brooklyn: Questionable-SG Joe Johnson (Quad).
Re-Evaluating Brooklyn: The Right Mix?
The Nets made a huge splash this offseason by trading for Joe Johnson and resigning Gerald Wallace, among other notable moves. While the predictions were that this Nets squad might well contend in the east, the reality has been less successful. Head coach Avery Johnson was fired earlier this season and although interim coach, and former Blazers head coach, PJ Carlesimo has been more successful, the Nets have been a very average team for the most part. With their relatively bad cap situation the next few years, it doesn’t look like it is going to get better either. Brooklyn will make the playoffs and might even win a series but any more that that is extremely unlikely.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. The Nets cannot keep up if the Blazers are hot. If they can top the century mark, Portland should bounce back with a win.
Brooklyn wins if: They limit Portland’s 3 point effectiveness. Portland wins when they make 3 pointers, when they don’t it can ugly. If the Nets can make Portland ineffective from deep, they will win.CONTINUE WITH POST
Team Records: Portland (33-36) at Oklahoma City (51-19)
Game Info: 4 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: OKC -11.5
Refs: Ken Mauer, Bennie Adams, James Williams
The Skinny: The Blazers look to build off of two straight road wins in Chicago and Atlanta as they close their five-game road swing against the Western Conference’s second place team. OKC has been less than on form as of late, losing two of their last three and struggling even in wins and will surely look for a feel-good win over the Blazers.
Last time they met: OKC held on as Batum’s go-ahead layup in the closing seconds rimmed out for the narrow win in Portland.
Projected Thunder Lineup:
PF: Serge Ibaka (Congo, 4th season) – 13.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, .6 APG
SF: Kevin Durant (Texas, 6th season) – 28.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.5 APG
C: Kendrick Perkins (Clifton J. Ozen (HS), 10th season) – 4.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 APG
SG: Thabo Sefolosha (Switzerland, 7th season) – 7.6 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.6 APG
PG: Russell Westbrook (UCLA, 5th season) – 23.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.5 APG
Player to Watch: Kevin Martin (pictured at right) – When OKC pulled the Harden trade just before the start of the year, one thing became apparent, it was time for OKC’s newest addition, Kevin Martin, acquired in that trade, to step up and fill Harden’s sixth man role. For the most part he has filled that role, at least on offense, stepping right in and providing a solid contribution off the bench. Defensively Martin is better than he was, but given that he wasn’t that great to begin with, that’s not saying much. The biggest risk for Martin is that he always shoots a lot but he is often inconsistent, as likely to go 3-12 as 7-11. The Blazers had best hope he has an off night Sunday.
Did You Know?: OKC is 15-4 in games following a loss this season.
Song of the Day: “Oklahoma Ok!” from the Musical Oklahoma!, the unofficial state song of Oklahoma. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achillies), SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad)
Re-Evaluating OKC: Second Half Struggles?
It’s a funny thing really, OKC is the NBA’s best first half team, outscoring opponents by an average of 6.7 points per game in the opening half. Yet, in the second half OKC outscores opponents by only 2.1 points. OKC particularly struggles in the third, where they only outscore opponents by 1.5 points and have particularly struggled as of late. Why is this? Well there are several possible reasons. First, it is virtually impossible to maintain the same success across an entire game. Second, OKC often has a big enough of a lead they relax and aren’t as focused, letting opponents play them closer. Whatever the case, while it is something interesting, given OKC’s strong record in actually winning games, its not the sort of thing you’d really want to worry all the much about.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They hold Westbrook/Durant to under 50 combined points. This is not going to be easy, but when OKC’s dynamic duo was held under the 50 point mark last season, they were beatable. If Portland is to beat OKC, they will have to make someone besides OKC’s two best players do it.
Oklahoma City wins if: They shoot at least 30 free throws. The Thunder excel at getting to the line and making their FTs once they get there (almost everyone on the team except Perkins is a great FT shooter) and when they manage 30 attempts a game, they nearly always prevail.CONTINUE WITH POST
Team Records: Portland (32-36) at Atlanta (38-30)
Game Info: 4:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Atlanta -8
Refs: Marc Davis, Courtney Kirkland, Violet Palmer.
The Skinny: After hammering the Bulls Thursday night in Chicago, the Blazers travel to Atlanta in search of a second straight road win against a surging Hawks team. Atlanta has won four out of its last five after losing six of its previous seven.
Last Time They Met: Atlanta took control early and held on for dear life late as Portland made a charge but fell short as the Hawks won in Portland.
Projected Hawks Lineup:
PF-Josh Smith (Oak Hill Academy (HS)-9th Season) 17.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.3 APG.
SF-Kyle Korver (Creighton-10th Season)-11.2 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.1 APG.
C-Al Horford (Florida-6th Season)-17.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 3.2 APG
SG-Devin Harris (Wisconsin-9th Season)-9.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.1 APG.
PG-Jeff Teague (Wake Forest-4th Season)-14.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 7.1 APG.
Player to Watch-Al Horford (Pictured at right)- Horford is an elite big man with a great mid-range shot. He can run the floor and finish at the rim and is an excellent rebounder. Although he’s really more of a PF, Horford is more than capable of playing C and is an improving defender. His post game needs a bit of work but is also improving as well. Horford will be a big challenge for the Blazers Friday.
Did You Know?: Despite having one of the more notably less enthusiastic fanbases in the league, Atlanta is a tough team to beat at home, sporting a 70.5% winning percentage at home over the last six seasons.
Song of the Day: “Welcome to Atlanta” by Ludacris and Jermaine Dupris-One of Atlanta’s signature songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), SF Victor Claver (Ankle).
Atlanta: Out-C Zaza Pachulia (Achilles), SG Lou Williams (Knee).
Re-Evaluating the Hawks: Whither Josh Smith?
The Hawks made no secret that they were trying to shop free agent to be Josh Smith at this year’s trade deadline. While several trades appeared to be close, it never quite came together and now it appears Atlanta will lose him without getting anything for him. Still, the news isn’t all bad for the Hawks because given their smart moves of the past few years, they actually have a lot of flexibility going forward. Especially since they got Brooklyn to take Joe Johnson and his albatross of a contract, the Hawks will be able to rebuild from losing Smith rather quickly.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They attack inside. Josh Smith and Al Horford are decent interior defenders but they are pretty much all the Hawks have. The Blazers should be able to exploit this advantage and make it easier for themselves on offense than has been the case much of this season.
Atlanta wins if: They take care of the ball. The Hawks are not a high-risk offense and so if they turn the ball over a lot, they are in trouble. If they can keep control of the ball, however, they should be able to beat Portland.CONTINUE WITH POST
Team Records: Portland (31-36) at Chicago (36-30)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Chicago -5.
Refs: Danny Crawford, Eric Dalen, David Jones
The Skinny: The Blazers travel to Chicago today to face an angry Bulls team that might well rightly feel as if a blown goal-tending call cost them a crucial win over Denver their last time out. Portland fans can certainly sympathize but will want their team to bounce back after yet another “dig a deep hole, kind of climb back out too late” game in Milwaukee.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers used a balanced attack to humble a Bulls team that was off its game a bit that night, handing the Blazers an 8-point win in a game that wasn’t really that close.
Projected Bulls Lineup:
PF: Carlos Boozer (Duke, 11th season) – 15.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2 APG
SF: Luol Deng (Duke, 9th season) – 16.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG
C: Joakim Noah (Florida, 6th season) – 12 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 4.1 APG
SG: Marco Belinelli (Italy, 5th season) – 10 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.9 APG
PG: Nate Robinson (Washington, 7th season) – 12.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 4.3 APG
Player to Watch: Nate Robinson (pictured at right) – You may find this hard to believe but coming out of college Nate Robinson was a hot prospect. In fact, one of the reasons ex-Blazer Brandon Roy came back for his senior season was to show how good a player he was once out of Nate Robinson’s (admittedly tiny) shadow. While Robinson has found reasonable success these past few years bouncing around the league as a backup PG where needed, he is perhaps best known for his three slam dunk titles. Robinson can sting you with his shot when he’s on but when he’s off, he can be flat awful. The Blazers had better hope he’s off tonight.
Did You Know?: Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is the first coach in NBA history to lead his team to the most wins in the league in both of his first two seasons as a head coach.
Song of the Day: “One Shining Moment (2012 version)”. In honor of the start of college basketball’s magic tournament on Thursday we present its signature song. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad).
Chicago: Out- PG Derrick Rose (Knee), Questionable – PG Kirk Hinrich (Foot), SG Richard Hamilton (Back), PF Taj Gibson (Knee).
Re-Evaluating Chicago: When to Bring Back Rose
Rumors have abounded recently about when Rose is coming back this season and indeed if he is going to come back at all. In all honesty, while it would be nice to see one of the best point guards in the game back on the court as soon as possible (and I’d love to see him matchup with Lillard) Rose and the Bulls are right not to hurry. A rusty Rose in the playoffs this year won’t get them a title and can probably only risk reinjury. In the end, the Bulls should take the long view, bring Rose back only when he thinks and everyone else thinks, he’s ready, and not a moment too soon. As Blazer fans know, trying to come back too soon can mean you might hinder your ability to come back at all.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score at least 100 points. The Bulls are not a great offensive team, and so if the Blazers can top the century mark, they should be able to prevail.
Chicago wins if: They play their game. The Bulls will win this game if they play as they are capable. They are the more talented team, even without MVP Rose, and can be counted on to win Thursday at home.CONTINUE WITH POST