Team Records: Portland (8-6) at Toronto (4-11)
Game Info: 4 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -6.5
Refs: Tony Brothers, Leroy Richardson, Zach Zarba.
The Skinny: After an ugly loss Wednesday during which Portland shot below 40% but still had a chance to win late, the Blazers need to win their next two games to salvage a 3-3 split on this road trip. They begin north of the border against the woeful Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have lost six in a row and eight of their last nine.
Last season: The Blazers swept the season series 2-0. Portland has won six straight versus Toronto.
Projected Raptors Lineup:
PF: Ed Davis (North Carolina, 2nd season) – 5.6 PPG, 6 RPG, .9 APG
SF: James Johnson (Wake Forest, 3rd season) – 4.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.8 APG
C: Amir Johnson (Westchester (HS), 7th season) – 8.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 APG
SG: DeMar Derozan (USC, 3rd season) – 14.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.3 APG
PG: Jose Calderon (Spain, 7th season) – 11.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 8.7 APG
Player to Watch: DeMar Derozan (pictured at right) – Derozan is a fun player to watch because he is one of the NBA’s best dunkers. Derozan’s catalog of amazing dunks seemingly grows by the game. He also draws a lot of fouls and shoots a good percentage from the line; however, too often on offense he chooses to take long twos and threes, which he shoots very poorly. Derozan also seems to be completely unaware that one can pass the ball, as he only passes as a last resort. On defense, when he focuses he can do fine; however, he rarely focuses and is beaten off the dribble far too often. Still, he is at least a fun player on a bad team.
Did You Know?: When Toronto scores 100 points in a home game, instead of the chalupas or tacos other fanbases get, fans get coupons for a free slice of pizza at a local chain called “Pizza Pizza.”
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee); Probable – C Marcus Camby (ankle), SF Nicolas Batum (eye)
Toronto: Questionable – PF Andrea Bargaini (calf), PG Jerryd Bayless (ankle)
Toronto was considered by many to be the worst team in the NBA going into this season. They were well on their way to avoiding that dubious distinction when Andrea Bargani began the season playing the best ball of his career. Since he has gone out with a calf injury, an already bad Toronto team has plummeted, scoring 10 less points per game than they did with Bargani in the lineup and shooting a horrific 39.7% from the field. They are a slow-paced yet low efficiency offense predicated on primarily iso action except when Calderon passes the ball. Oh, and they turn the ball over more than almost any other team in the league. On defense, they are a decent bunch, holding opponents to only 41.2% from the field and allowing a team to top 100 only once this season. If you can score enough points Toronto will likely not be able to keep up.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. Toronto without Bargani doesn’t have a lot of consistent offense. If the Blazers can be the second team this season to hit 100, they will win.
Toronto wins if: They catch the Blazers napping and take advantage. The only realistic way Toronto wins this game is if they catch Portland napping and play a good game as well. They simply don’t have the talent to keep up otherwise.