Team Records: Portland (45-27) at Atlanta (31-39)
Game Info: 4:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -4.5
Refs: James Capers, Mark Lindsay, Violet Palmer
The Skinny: Whatever happened has happened but now the Blazers must find their way again and quickly too as they face a struggling Hawks team on the road. Especially if LMA comes back tonight, but even if he doesn’t, there are 0 reasons why they shouldn’t win this game. Just do it Blazers.
Last Time They Met: Portland rolled to a business-like win over the Hawks winning by 24 in a game that was never really in doubt. Korver’s NBA record steak of 127 games with at least one 3 pointer made ended during the game, which is about the only notable thing that happened that night.
Projected Hawks Lineup:
PF-Paul Millsap (Louisiana Tech-8th Season)-17.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3 APG.
SF-DeMarre Carroll (Missouri-5th Season)-11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.7 APG.
C-Pero Antic (Macedonia-Rookie)-7.1 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.2 APG
SG-Shelvin Mack (Butler-3rd Season)-7.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.7 APG.
PG-Jeff Teague (Wake Forest-5th Season)-16.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7 APG.
Player to Watch-Paul Millsap (Pictured at right)-Given LMA’s development its probably a good thing Utah matched Portland’s offer sheet to Millsap all those years ago but the Blazers had one thing right, Millsap is one hell of a player. Millsap was selected to his first all-star team this year, an honor that was probably at least a few years overdue. Millsap is a very good offensive player, rebounder and defender. He is even capable of hitting a 3 pointer or two, and actually attempts around 3 per game, shooting about 33% from deep .He probably turns the ball over a bit too often but that is something you can overlook when you see how much he gives you. Millsap will be key for Portland to stop Thursday.
Did You Know?: On 12/14 at New York, Atlanta became the first team in NBA history to shoot .600 FG%, 1.000 FT% (minimum 10 makes) and hit 15 3FGs in a single game.
Song of the Day: “Now You’re a Man” from the movie Orgazmo (warning: NSFW)-After last night we need a South Park style song. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), Probable-PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Back)
Atlanta: Out-C Al Horford (Pectoral Muscle), SG John Jenkins (Back), PF Gustavo Ayon (Shoulder), Doubtful-SG Kyle Korver (Back)
Re-Evaluating Atlanta: What is This Roster?
Remember a few years ago when the joke was that the Wolves had all the point guards in the league on their roster? The Wolves have that with centers? Atlanta’s depth chart lists five centers, they lack a true SG and they are basically a collection of random players who were good enough apparently to make an NBA roster. Because the eastern conference is terrible, this bunch is most likely good enough to make the playoffs in the east (and get swept by the Pacers or Heat) but beyond that, ugh. Even if fully healthy its hard to see this as anything more than a barely playoff caliber roster, and its hard to see how Atlanta takes the next step up the NBA’s pyramid.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. This is a Hawks team that has struggled mightily as of late. If the Blazers are ready to go, they win.
Atlanta wins if: They hold Portland under 100. The Hawks need to play well on defense to have a chance . If they can do so, they might be able to get a win.