Team Records: Philadelphia (11-21) at Portland (26-7)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -13
Refs: Zach Zarba, Eric Dalen, Gary Zielinski
The Skinny: The Blazers look for their second straight blowout win against an opponent from the (l)Eastern conference as they welcome the Sixers to Portland. Philly has been playing well as of late, winning three straight, albeit all against lesser opponents in the Nuggets, Kings and Lakers. Unlike in the first match-up this season Philly will have the services of rookie of the year front-runner Michael-Carter Williams, who has been fabulous so far this year.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers were red hot from deep all night, burying the Sixers under a barrage of 21 three pointers en route to a 139-105 blowout win.
Projected Sixers Lineup:
PF-Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech-7th Season) 17.9 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.8 APG.
SF-Evan Turner (Ohio State-4th Season)-19.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.2 APG.
C-Spencer Hawes (Washington-7th Season)-14.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.1 APG
SG-Hollis Thompson (Georgetown-Rookie)-5.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, .8 APG.
PG-Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse-Rookie)-17.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.3 APG.
Player to Watch-Michael Carter-Williams (pictured at right)-When healthy this year there has been no better rookie than Michael Carter Williams (MCW). MCW has been fabulous in virtually all phases of the game, scoring in bunches, dishing out assists, grabbing rebounds and forcing steals in bunches. MCW burst onto the NBA scene with a flurry when he was one steal short of a triple double (and 3 rebounds short of a possible quadruple double) in his first-ever NBA game against Miami. MCW is not without flaws, however, as MCW is only shooting at a 40.6% clip this season and can have bad nights on occasion. Yet even when he doesn’t have a good shooting night, his passing and defense more than make up for it. MCW appears to be yet another talented NBA PG in the making.
Did You Know?: Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo became the first NBA rookies to ever have triple doubles in the same game during Philly’s 126-125 OT win over the Magic in early December.
Song of the Day: “Rocky Theme Song” Practically the anthem for the city of Philadelphia and one of the great sports anthems of all time. Enjoy:
Philadelphia: Out-C Nerlens Noel (Knee), PF Arnett Moultrie (Ankle)
Re-Evaluating Philly: The Problem of Tanking in the East
The Sixers were supposed to be bad and for the most part they are. However, the Sixers have been winning a few more games than those that were hoping they would tank this season would have hoped for. This is because in the Eastern conference, being merely bad isn’t bad enough if you want to successfully tank. Instead, you have to be really bad, like the Bucks are. The emergence of MCW has kept that from occurring. In the end this may be a good thing as Philly certainly needs talented players to emerge but in the short run, in terms of getting a top pick in next summer’s draft, its not what the tanking doctors would order.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They knock the Sixers out early. This is a better Philly team than Portland faced the first time. Hopefully they can land that early knockout punch and cruise to an easy win.
Philadelphia wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. Philly is going to have to play its best defense to have any hope of a win. If they can hold Portland under 100, they may have a shot Saturday.