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: Portland (31-35) at Milwaukee (33-32)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Milwaukee -4
Refs: Bill Spooner, Kevin Fehr, Kane Fitzgerald
The Skinny: Following a tough loss in the final seconds in Philadelphia Monday, Portland travels to Milwaukee in search of a bounce back win vs. a Bucks team looking to escape a first round playoff matchup (and almost certain doom) with the Miami Heat. Milwaukee has been up and down as of late, going 6-4 in their last ten games.
Last Time They Met: The Bucks took a big lead on Portland and held off a late charge to beat the Blazers at the Rose Garden.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey, 5th season) – 12.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 APG
SF: Marquis Daniels (Auburn, 10th Season) – 5.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.1 APG
C: Larry Sanders (VCU, 3rd Season) – 9.1 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 8th season) – 19.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.9 APG
PG: Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy (HS), 4th season) – 18.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.7 APG
Player to Watch: Larry Sanders (pictured at right) – There were plenty in the NBA who saw Milwaukee’s pick of Larry Sanders with the 15th selection in 2010 as a possible steal. Through his first two seasons there was little to indicate this was the case but given a chance to shine this year, Sanders most certainly has. Sanders is one of the best shot blockers in the NBA and a fearsome defender inside. His rebounding and scoring are way up as well, although those tend to be a little more inconsistent for Larry. The biggest concern, honestly, may be his temper, which has seen him get ejected a league-leading four times this season, including in the first meeting with Portland. If he can stay on the court and find a way to harness that emotion, Sanders has the skills to be a very good player both now in the future for the Bucks.
Did You Know?: If the Bucks win tomorrow it will be their first four game win streak versus the Blazers since a four-game run from 1985-1986.
Song of the Day: “In Heaven There is No Beer”-by Dr. Demento, in honor of Milwaukee’s famed beer scene. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad).
Milwaukee: Out-SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Toe).
Re-Evaluating Milwaukee: Obscurity
There may be no more obscure team in the NBA than the Bucks. They haven’t been particularly good, or particularly exciting or even particularly bad at any time in recent memory and they are rarely on national TV. Maybe folks should be paying more attention. The Bucks are a fun team to watch and have a solid young core. If they can keep it together, while they are not likely to be a title contender anytime soon, they could be a consistent legitimate playoff team and perhaps win a series or two down the road. Here’s hoping this happens so the Bucks may not be so obscure in the future.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They hold the Bucks under 95. When the Bucks fail to score 95 points they almost never win this season, and Portland can do that if they can make Monta and Jennings inefficient.
Milwaukee wins if: They win the turnover battle. The Bucks are great at forcing steals and when they win they tend to force a fair number of turnovers. If they can do so Tuesday, they should prevail.CONTINUE WITH POST
Team Records: Portland (31-34) at Philadelphia (25-40)
Game Info: 4 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Philly -1
Refs: James Capers, Derrick Collins, Olandis Poole
The Skinny: The Blazers begin their last long road trip of the season with their easiest remaining road game of the year, in Philadelphia. The Sixers have lost seven of their last ten, although they have some solid wins at home in recent times, including a narrow loss to the Heat last week. Philadelphia hasn’t beaten the Blazers since the two teams last met in Philly, in late November 2010.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers controlled the game and then held on for dear life as Philly made a late charge that came up just short in Portland.
Projected Sixers Lineup:
PF-Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech-6th Season) 15.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 APG.
SF-Evan Turner (Ohio State-3rd Season)-13.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.4 APG.
C-Spencer Hawes (Washington-6th Season)-10.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2 APG
SG-Damien Wilkins (Georgia-9th Season)-4.2 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1 APG.
PG-Jrue Holiday (UCLA-4th Season)-18.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 8.7 APG.
Player to Watch-Jrue Holiday (pictured below)-Reggie Miller said that night that there was no way some kid from Weber State could beat a UCLA-product in the finals of the Skills Challenge at the 2013 All-Star weekend. That kid, of course, was Lillard and he did beat Jrue Holiday. That is, however, about all Holiday hasn’t been successful at this year. The knock on Holiday had been that he wasn’t a pure point guard, well he’s fixed that this season, upping his assists dramatically while only marginally raising his turnover rate. All this while keeping his solid deep shooting statistics fairly stable. He’ll be one to watch if Portland wants to win Monday.
Did You Know?: Each of Philly’s last three wins has come against a team with a winning record. They haven’t beaten a sub. 500 team since a win over Charlotte on February 9.
Song of the Day: “The Next Movement” by The Roots. One of the best known songs from one of Philly’s best known groups. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), SF Victor Claver (Ankle).
Philadelphia: Out-C Andrew Bynum (Knee), SG Jason Richardson (Knee).
Re-Evaluating the Sixers: A Losing Bet
When the Sixers traded for Andrew Bynum in the offseason, they were taking a calculated risk that his well known knee problems were behind him and he would become their new franchise star. That bet hasn’t panned out as Bynum hasn’t played a single minute for Philly this year and has been more notable for his hairstyles, and for worsening his injury in a bowling incident, than anything on the court. Thankfully for the Sixers, Bynum is a free agent this offseason and his contract is 80% insured, so the Sixers can quickly move on from the bet they made that hasn’t worked out.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. If Portland plays their pace and has a decent night on offense, they should be able to get this one in Philly.
Philadelphia wins if: They outrebound Portland. Philly is not a very good rebounding team but when they do outrebound you they tend to win. If they can do so, they should be able to beat Portland.CONTINUE WITH POST
Team Records: Detroit (23-44) at Portland (30-34)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -10.5
The Skinny: Following the Felton revenge/return game on Thursday, the Blazers conclude their homestand against the once-again lottery-bound Pistons. Detroit comes into this game riding a seven-game losing streak. Detroit has lost the last four games between the two teams in Portland. Detroit coach Lawrence Frank is away from the team attending to a personal matter and Assistant Coach Brian Hill is the acting head coach Saturday.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers came out flat and never got it going, falling to a Pistons team that just happened to be slightly more active than they were.
Projected Pistons Lineup:
PF-Jason Maxiell (Cincinnatti-8th Season) 6.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, .7 APG.
SG-Kyle Singler (Duke-Rookie)-8.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1 APG.
C-Greg Monroe (Georgetown-3rd Season)-15.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.3 APG
SG-Rodney Stuckey (Eastern Washington-6th Season)-10.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.4 APG.
PG-Jose Calderon (Spain-8th Season)-11 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 7.4 APG.
Player to Watch: Jose Calderon (Pictured at right)-It would probably surprise you to know that, while in Toronto this year, Jose Calderon recorded multiple triple doubles, joining a group of only seven players to do so this season. Perhaps because he has toiled his career away in a city that cares far more about hockey than basketball (even though the Maple Leafs have hardly been more successful than the Raptors), Calderon has flown under the radar. An excellent shooter and a great passer, Calderon is a force on the offensive end. While his defense is, in a word, poor, it is a small price to pay for a solid starting PG like Calderon. Hopefully he finally gets the respect he deserves in Detroit.
Did You Know?: Aldridge averages 22.9 points per game versus Detroit, the highest career average for him vs. any opponent.
Song of the Day: “Dancin’ in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas-One of the best Motown songs of all time. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), SF Victor Claver (Ankle).
Detroit: Out-C Andre Drummond (Back), Questionable-PG Brandon Knight (Knee).
Re-Evaluating Detroit: Stuck in Neutral
The way the NBA works, you expect that over time, if you are bad enough you will get good players in the draft and rebuild successfully so you can at least contend for a playoff spot. Yet what happens if you are merely kind of bad, not close to the playoffs but not bad enough to get top pick. That is what has happened to Detroit. They get mid-lottery picks and they kind of work but they never seem to really move forward. For their sake hopefully they will be able to build around their solid young core and escape their current predicament.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. Detroit is an awful team. If the Blazers are focused, they should be able to win this one fairly easily.
Detroit wins if: They make lots of threes. When Detroit has won this year, they have gotten hot from deep. They will have to do so again to have any hope Saturday.CONTINUE WITH POST
Team Records: New York (38-24) at Portland (29-34)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on TNT, Radio on 1190 and 102. 3 FM
Vegas Line: Portland -6
Refs: Ron Garretson, Nick Buchert, David Jones
The Skinny: The Blazers welcome back one of the most hated Blazers of all time in Raymond Felton tonight as they play their second in a three game homestand. Portland is seeking its first sweep of the Knicks since the 2008-09 season. The Knicks have been up and down as of late and are playing the third in a five game road swing in Portland.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers took a big lead in New York and then held on for dear life as the Knicks made a late rally. Portland survived a monster night from Carmelo Anthony, who scored 45 points in New York’s loss.
Projected Knicks Lineup:
PF: Kurt Thomas (TCU-18th season) – 2.3 PPG, 2 RPG, .4 APG
SF: James White (Cincinnati-3rd season) – 1.7 PPG, .7 RPG, .4 APG
C: Tyson Chandler (Dominguez (HS)-12th season) – 10.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, .9 APG
SG: Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech-2nd season) – 5.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 APG
PG: Raymond Felton (North Carolina-8th season) – 14.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.8 APG
Player to Watch: Raymond “Cupcakes” Felton (pictured at right) – I wanted to like Raymond Felton when he came to Portland, I really truly did. He was a solid player, was coming off a great year in New York before he was traded to Denver as part of the Melo trade and seemed like at worst a lateral move to replace Andre Miller. Boy was I wrong. Felton showed up to camp out of shape and overweight and played like it all season. Still, I wanted to believe he would work his way into shape, but he didn’t, neither mentally nor physically. I finally turned on him when, after a blowout loss to the Wizards at home, he said the team hadn’t played poorly. Good riddance Felton and you fully deserve whatever scorn the RG crowd heaps on you Thursday.
Did You Know?: Earlier this season Knicks coach Mike Woodson became the fastest in team history to 50 wins, accomplishing this feat in only 73 games.
Song of the Day: “Cupcake Song” from My Little Pony. The only song that is appropriate to commemorate Felton’s favorite treat. Enjoy:
Portland: Out –SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), SF Victor Claver (Ankle).
New York: Out –-PF Amar’e Stoudemire (Knee), PF Rasheed Wallace (Foot), PF Carmelo Anthony (Knee), Probable-C Tyson Chandler (Knee).
Re-Evaluating the Knicks: Booing Your Own Players
It takes a lot to get me to boo a player on my own team. I tend to give players, even those I don’t like much (looking your way Darius Miles) the benefit of the doubt and believe that, as long as they are trying hard, they shouldn’t be booed by their own fans. I made an exception for Felton last year, as it wasn’t that he was just playing badly, although he certainly was, but that, in addition, he wasn’t appearing to try that hard. As Dean Wormer said famously in Animal House “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son” and while Felton may no longer be fat and he’s certainly no alcoholic, he certainly played fat and stupid last season.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Hold New York under 100 points. New York may be better on defense but they are still fundamentally an offense-first team. If they don’t score 100, they almost never win.
New York wins if: They make at least 10 3 pointers. When New York is going well, they take and make a lot of 3 pointers. If they can do so Thursday, they should prevail.CONTINUE WITH POST