Team Records: Philadelphia (4-23) at Portland (23-7)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -14
Refs: Ron Garretson, Violet Palmer, Gary Zielinski
The Skinny: The Blazers return home following a successful 3-1 road trip to begin a season-long seven game homestand against the lowly Sixers. The Sixers have won two in a row coming into tonight’s game, beating the Magic and Heat in consecutive nights on the road. Philly is a respectable 4-6 since opening the season 0-17.
Last Time They Met: It wasn’t easy but eventually the Blazers pulled away from the pesky Sixers to win 114-104. LMA had 33 to lead Portland to victory while last year’s rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams tallied 24 for Philly.
Projected Sixers Lineup:
PF-Robert Covington (Tennessee State-2nd Season)-11.7 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.1 APG.
SF-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (UCLA-7th Season)-9.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.4 APG.
C-Nerlens Noel (Kentucky-Rookie)-7.9 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.7 APG.
SG-JaKarr Simpson (St. John’s-Rookie)-2.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, .5 APG.
PG-Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse-2nd Season)-15.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 7.9 APG.
Player to Watch-Michael Carter-Williams (pictured at right)-It can’t be easy being about the only ray of sunshine on an otherwise awful team but such was the case for MCW last season. Rookie of the year almost it seemed by default, due to a lack of competition, MCW was a good player in his own right. Coming out of the gate fast, and given the chance to demonstrate his skills on an awful team, he shined. MCW is a pass-first point guard who can’t pass very much because the team around him is awful. He has long arms and is an excellent rebounder for someone his size. He’s not a great outside shooter, and although he can get to the rim, often struggles to finish close in. Still, its perhaps a bit harsh to judge a player who obviously has so much talent on a team where, if the plan goes through, most of the roster won’t be playing in the NBA for any team in a few years.
Did You Know?: The Sixers have signed 11 undrafted players to their active roster this season, the most in NBA history.
Song of the Day: “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen. This song was the theme to the movie “Philadelphia” and won the 1994 Oscar for best original song. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-C Robin Lopez (Hand)
Philadelphia: Out-C Joel Embid (Foot), SG Jason Richardson (Knee), Doubtful-PG Tony Wroten (Knee), Questionable-PF Furkan Aldemir (Foot), SG Hollis Thompson (Upper Respiratory Infection)
Re-Evaluating the Sixers: Will the Tank Work?
The Sixers are making no secret of their plans. They want to suck as much as possible for the next few years so that they can build a core of top draft picks around which they can build a title contender. It could work, and it has worked, before, such as with OKC, but for every OKC there are plenty of teams, say Sacramento, that just end up stuck in the bottom again and again and again. The Sixers might be different, they might be onto something but then again, they might not be. If I were to bet, I’d say they’ll be a playoff team in a few years, because the east is terrible, but will they really be able to make enough good draft picks then lure top free agents to build a contender? I don’t think so. This team is so far from the promised land right now that its hard to see them being good enough anytime soon to attract the pieces they’d need. Then again, who knows? Its possible, it could work, but I don’t think so.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. The Sixers are terrible, the Blazers are good. If the Blazers are focused and ready to go, this should be an easy win.
Philadelphia wins if: They hold Portland under 90 points. The Sixers are a bad enough offensive team that they need to play well on defense, their marginally less horrible unit, to have any chance. If they can hold Portland under 90, they might have a shot.