Team Records: New Orleans (0-1) at Portland (0-0)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -2.5
Refs: Ron Garretson, Steve Anderson, David Guthrie
The Skinny: The Blazers begin a new era as they open the 2015-16 season at home against an injury-plagued Pelicans squad. After making the playoffs last year, the Pelicans have been hit with a rash of injuries and are coming off an opening night loss to Golden State.
Last Season: Portland swept the three game season series against the Pelicans last year. The Blazers have five straight wins over New Orleans and have won 11 of the last 14 overall.
Projected Pelicans Lineup (14-15 Averages):
PF: Anthony Davis (Kentucky, 4th season) – 24.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.2 APG
SF: Dante Cunningham (Villanova, 7th season) – 5.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, .8 APG
C: Kendrick Perkins (Clifton J. Ozen (HS), 13th season) – 3.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, .8 APG
SG: Eric Gordon (Indiana, 9th season) – 13.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.8 APG
PG: Jrue Holiday (UCLA, 7th season) – 14.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.9 APG
Player to Watch: Anthony Davis (pictured at right) – It was apparent from the first time Anthony Davis played at Kentucky that he was a special talent. A shot-blocking phenom who could move like a guard (perhaps because Davis had a late growth spurt and trained as a guard through much of high school), Davis was an easy choice with the first pick in 2012′s draft. Davis can hit from anywhere on offense, although he is especially lethal close to the rim, where he shoots over 70% for his career. Davis is also an elite rebounder and scarily enough has plenty of room to grow there and in other areas. About the only real concern is his health as Davis has missed a number of games over his first three seasons with what are hopefully non-recurring injuries. He may not be there yet, but Davis is a potential future hall of famer if he continues on this development track and is a fine piece for any franchise to build around.
Did You Know?: Portland is responsible for three of the nine largest blown leads in New Orleans’s (and the original Charlotte Hornets’s) franchise history, overcoming deficits of 27 (11/10/2006), 21 (1/6/94) and 20 (2/20/09) to win.
Song of the Day: “Another Op’nin, Another Show” from “Kiss Me Kate”-Its time for another Blazers opening night so this seemed appropriate. Enjoy:
Portland: Probable-SF Aminu (Hamstring), SF Harkless (Ankle), Doubtful-PF Alexander (Knee), Out-SG Henderson (Hip)
New Orleans: Questionable-SF Babbitt (Hamstring), SF-Cunningham (Concussion), Out-PG Cole (Ankle), C Asik (Calf), SF Pondexter (Knee), SF T. Evans (Knee)
New Orleans’s Game:
New Orleans took advantage of OKC’s many injuries this year and made the playoffs. That they bowed up quickly did not diminish this accomplishment. Building around the elite talent of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans have assembled a strong roster that is only going to get better. They are particularly stout on defense, or they will be once Asik gets back from his injury. With a new head coach, its time to see if last year was a fluke or if New Orleans is truly a team on the rise. Here’s betting they are, as they have a good young core, as well as perhaps the best young talent in the NBA, to build around.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make someone other than Davis beat them. Look, here’s the thing, beyond Davis the Pelicans don’t have a lot of depth with all their injuries. If the Blazers can try and make the non-Unibrow players beat them, they should prevail.
New Orleans wins if: They make at least 10 three-pointers. When the Pelicans do well, they typically make a lot of three-pointers. If they can do so Wednesday, they should win.