Team Records: Atlanta (24-8) at Portland (26-7)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -6
Refs: John Goble, Mark Ayotte, Ben Taylor
The Skinny: The Blazers continue their long homestand as they face the tough Hawks in a key west vs. east matchup. Atlanta is one of three east teams to have a winning record vs. the west (the other two are Toronto and Washington). Atlanta has been on quite a roll as of late, winning seventeen of their last nineteen games.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the season series 2-0, marking Portland’s first sweep of the Hawks since the 2007-08 season.
Projected Hawks Lineup:
PF-Paul Millsap (Louisiana Tech-9th Season)-16.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.2 APG.
SF-DeMarre Carroll (Missouri-6th Season)-11.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.3 APG.
C-Al Horford (Florida-8th Season)-14.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG
SG-Kyle Korver (Creighton-12th Season)-13 PPG, 4 RPG, 3.1 APG.
PG-Jeff Teague (Wake Forest-6th Season)-16.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7 APG.
Player to Watch-Jeff Teague (Pictured at right)-Jeff Teague is a spectacular player, spectacularly good at times but also spectacularly bad, seemingly as likely to put down a crazy shot as he is to turn the ball over in an amazingly stupid way. Yet for all that he has developed into a very nice point guard. Teague is a very good passer and does a good job running the offense. Sure he turns the ball over too much but he can play decent defense and plays a key role in Atlanta’s resurgence this season.
Did You Know?: Despite having the east’s best record, the Hawks rank only 24th in attendance, by far the lowest among likely playoff teams.
Song of the Day: “Welcome to Atlanta” by Ludacris and Jermaine Dupris-One of Atlanta’s signature songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-C Robin Lopez (Hand)
Statistically Atlanta doesn’t look that impressive, 11th in offense and 7th in defense, which is good but not exactly elite. Yet, their key to success this year has been their ability to pull out close games, posting a 14-5 record in games decided by single digits. The Hawks come at you from many angles, capable of beating you from deep with Korver, or onside with Horford. They move the ball exceptionally well on offense, recording the league’s highest assist rate. On defense, they don an okay job but they aren’t particularly good at rebounding and the percentages they allow teams to shoot are pretty average. Still, they must be doing something right with only two losses in their last nineteen games. They will be a tough team for Portland to beat.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make Atlanta try to beat them 1 on 1. The Hawks thrive best when they are able to pass to open shooters. If the Blazers deny those passes and make them play iso ball, they should win.
Atlanta wins if: They outshoot Portland from deep. Korver loves to shoot 3s and he’s really good at it. If he and the Hawks can hit more 3s than Portland, they should prevail.