Friday, February 27, 2009

T Wolves Preview

If ever there was a must win, tonight would up there for top consideration. The Blazers are coming off of two tough losses to the Rockets and Spurs and end tonight’s 3 game road trip in Minnesota. In the tightly packed western conference, by losing 2 games, the Blazers slipped from 4th to 5th in the standings. Bottom line is we need every win we can scrap up.

Minnesota is without their best player Al Jefferson, who is out for the year with a knee injury. However, they are still not to be taken lightly. It will almost be like playing a completely different team then the Wolves the Blazers faced earlier this year. Instead of dumping the ball into Al Jefferson and going off of him, they now primarily penetrate and kick for open shots. It will be interesting to see how the Blazers respond to this. It takes a lot of energy to cover teams like this and the question is do the Blazers have enough in the tank on this 3rd game of a road trip?

Kevin "Showing A Little Too Much" Love

Greg Oden will once again be out, and it’s not looking good for Sunday versus the Spurs at home either. I personally think people are making way to big of a deal about this, and I can’t think of a player who has ever been more closely monitored while in the IR. Relax people, it’s not a season ending injury, he will be back soon enough. Meanwhile maybe this helps prep another one of our bench guys (Channing Frye) in case one of our bigs goes down before the playoffs.

So how do we go about beating Minnesota? Here are my keys to the game.

Keys to the Game
1. Score In the Paint. A lot
The T Wolves interior D is like warm butter, we need to be aggressive (looking at you LaMarcus) and not settle for jumpshots. This weak D should be a welcome confidence booster after the last two games.
2. Get A Hand Up on Their Shooters
If this team is going to beat you it will because you didn’t challenge enough of their shots. We cannot just leave them wide open to cast away threes, we must rotate and help on the dribble drive.
3. Control the Tempo
Minnesota is trying to ramp up the pace now that Jefferson is out, but we must not get caught up in running with them, and play at our own pace. We will dictate this by taking quality shots and hitting the glass.
4. Relax And Play Like We Can
I am sure that many of these young Blazers are feeling the pressure everyone is putting on them to perform and reach the playoffs. We just need to relax and remember what got us here.

Gambler’s Corner

Blazers -4.5
Over/Under 204.5

I am going to take the Blazers and the Over. I think this game will be a lot like the Clippers game last week, and the Blazers will get easy looks early after playing the stingy defenses of Houston and San Antonio this week. Playing those two teams is like wearing offensive ankle weights coming into tonight’s game.

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