In the game of basketball, it’s never a bad thing to be in control of your own destiny. And that is exactly the position that the Blazers find themselves in tonight. A Blazer win not only brings the Blazers one step closer to the Playoffs, it also would eliminate a potential ‘contender’ to the #8 spot. Now of course as good as that sentence just looked, the Hornets are 9 1/2 games behind Portland for that spot. That being said…it’s still cool to be able to eliminate someone.
Coming into tonight the Hornets have lost 13 of their last 17 but remain a tough team to play. The guys you have to worry about? Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison, arguably the top rookie duo in the NBA. If I’m a Hornet fan, Chris Paul’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise because it allowed these two young guys the chance to shine. And shine they have. Thornton is averaging 21.4 points this month (on top of the 18 he averaged in February), shooting 49% from the field and 41% from behind the arc (averaging 5.6 attempts a game). He’s proven to be a tremendous scoring threat, and he makes me want to slap Byron Scott in the face and say “Morris Peterson? Really?”. Collison has averaged 18 and 9 assists as a starting guard and is averaging 16 and 10 this month. If Portland wants to win, they have to contain these two. David West can always turn into a Blazer-killer. Whoever wins the battle between him and LaMarcus should see their team win.
Oh yeah…Chris Paul is back. He gets no write up because of the fact that he has not shown that’s he all the way back to CP3 type levels. We all know how dangerous he is, lets hope he takes another game or two to find his rhythm. I’m interested to see how Portland approaches this game. How bad does Portland want to be in the playoffs? Because of the fact that they have won 10 of their last 13 have a stigma of being a ‘hot’ team. This team has to continue to grow on both ends of the court and winning in New Orleans would be a positive sign. I want to see if Portland can fly around like they did on Thursday. I want to see if the ball movement will be there. Basically, I want to see Portland keep getting better. There is no need for a letdown, not with this much on the line.