Team Records: Orlando (6-3) at Portland (7-2)
Game Info: 7 PM, TV on KGW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -3.
Refs: Scott Foster, Karl Lane, Mark Lindsay
The Skinny: The Blazers look to keep their perfect home record in their final game before heading out on a six game road-trip. Orlando has been up and down so far this season, winning games at a decent pace if not exactly convincingly. Despite all the trade talk surrounding him, Dwight Howard has come out firing, notching two 20-20 games so far this season.
Last season: Portland swept the season series 2-0. It was the first Portland sweep since the 2002-03 season.
Projected Magic Lineup:
PF: Ryan Anderson (California, 4th season) – 18 PPG, 7.3 RPG, .9 APG
SF: Hedo Turkoglu (Turkey, 12th season) – 13.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 4.7 APG.
C: Dwight Howard (SW Atlanta Christian (HS), 8th season) – 18.6 PPG, 14.6 RPG, 2 APG
SG: Jason Richardson (Michigan State, 11th season) – 11.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.3 APG
PG: Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph’s, 7th season) – 6.8 PPG, 2 RPG, 5.4 APG
Player to Watch: Ryan Anderson (pictured at right) – There may be few more shocking breakout players this season than Ryan Anderson. After languishing on the bench for much of his first three NBA seasons, Anderson was forced into the starting role last year and has thrived. Anderson is primarily an outside shooter on offense, shooting nearly 40% from deep and .launching more than half his attempts from beyond the arc. In fact, Anderson currently leads the NBA in both three pointers made and attempted. Defensively, however, he still remains a liability and is often easily overpowered by bigger players. He will need to have a good game for Orlando to have a chance tonight.
Did You Know?: Orlando Assistant GM Dave Twardzik was a member of Portland’s Championship Squad. His #13 has been retired by the team.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee)
Orlando: Questionable – G/F Quentin Richardson (Ankle).
Orlando is not a complicated team to figure out on offense. They are slow paced (25th in the league) and focus primarily focus on two things, pounding the ball inside with Dwight Howard or shooting 3s with any of their other players. Orlando shoots more than 24 3s a game, by far the most in the league, and makes them at around a 39% clip. The downside for them is that if their shots aren’t falling, they lack the talent, beyond Howard, to get the ball inside and score or get to the line. On defense, the Magic focus primarily on forcing bad shots and protecting the paint with Dwight Howard’s superior shot blocking ability. They don’t force a lot of turnovers and give up around 20 assists a game on defense. As a result, you can break them down if you do a good job at finding open shooters and making shots. One other thing worthy of note, despite all their three point shooting, the Magic are not the sort of team that battles back from big deficits. If you can get a lead on them, they tend to fold as they did both of their last visits to Portland.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They do a good job defending the three point line. Dwight Howard is going to get his, that’s a given, but even if he does Orlando doesn’t win if they don’t make three pointers. If Portland can do a decent job defending the perimeter, they should win this one.
Orlando wins if: They beat Portland on points in the paint. Besides Howard, the Magic don’t have a lot of inside scorers. Especially with weak interior defenders like Anderson, if the Magic can beat Portland on points in the paint, they should be able to prevail.