Team Records: New Orleans (32-44) at Portland (49-28)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -10
Refs: Bill Spooner, Leon Wood, Haywoode Workman
Playoff Picture: Portland currently sits in fifth place and would play Houston if the playoffs started today. Portland’s magic number is 2 and they will secure a playoff spot with a win and a Dallas (at SAC), Memphis (at SA) or Phoenix (vs. OKC) loss Sunday.
The Skinny: The Blazers will look to rebound from whatever happened Friday and lock up both 50 wins and a playoff spot Sunday versus the Pelicans. New Orleans is playing out the string as their postseason hopes were long since dashed. The Pelicans have lost four straight coming into Sunday’s matchup.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers played just well enough to beat a beat New Orleans team and avoid a 0-5 road trip. Batum led the way with 22 points and 18 rebounds in the Portland victory.
Projected Pelicans Lineup:
PF: Anthony Davis (Kentucky, 2nd season) – 20.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.6 APG
SF: Darius Miller (Kentucky, 2nd season) – 13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.6 APG
C: Greg Sitemsma (Wisconsin, 3rd season) – 2.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, .7 APG
SG: Tyreke Evans (Memphis, 5th season) – 14.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.9 APG
PG: Brian Roberts (Dayton, 2nd season) – 9.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.3 APG
Player to Watch: Austin Rivers (pictured at right) – Austin Rivers has not had a smooth transition to the NBA to say the least. In fact, this son of the Clippers coach is so much of a liability that its almost good for opponents when he plays a lot. Rivers is a below-average shooter (40.1%) who makes it worse by taking lots of ill-advised shots. He’s not a rebounder and his passing is okay at best.. Oh and his defense isn’t great either. Rivers needs to turn it around or he might be out of the league entirely soon. He’s as bad a pick as Anthony Davis was good.
Did You Know?: Damon Stoudamire holds the second-highest opponent points against record in New Orleans franchise history with the 54 he scored on 1/14/05. In that contest, Stoudamire took an opponent franchise record 16 three-pointers, making eight.
Song of the Day: “Born on the Bayou’” by Credence Clearwater Revival. Another classic song about the New Orleans area. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee)
New Orleans: Out-C Jason Smith (Knee), PG Jrue Holiday (Tibia), PF Ryan Anderson (Herniated Disc), SG Eric Gordon (Herniated Disc), Questionable-PF Anthony Davis (Back)
Re-Evaluating New Orleans: Curtains for Monty?
Look there are many reasons why New Orleans has struggled this year that are likely outside of any coach’s control, most notably injuries but the time has come to ask if Monty Williams should be replaced as head coach. New Orleans is 23-22 this year in games decided by less than 10 points, not bad but those are the games that a coach should be able to put his team over the top in. The fact that New Orleans doesn’t win those games (Portland is 26-15 in such games btw) and has a horrible 11-34 record against teams above .500 calls into question whether Monty Williams can take a team to the next level. Adding to their problems is the fact that outside of Anthony Davis, who was pretty much a sure thing, New Orleans hasn’t exactly done a stellar job developing talent. So if they are not able to get to the next level and can’t develop talent, it really begs the question of whether Monty should get another season heading up New Orleans.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Make someone other than Anthony Davis beat you. Anthony Davis is an emerging superstar but he can’t win a game on his own without any help. If the Blazers can stop everyone else from going off, they should win.
New Orleans wins if: They hold Portland under 100. New Orleans is not a very good defensive team but they can have their moments. If New Orleans can hold Portland under 100, they should win.