Game Details: PowerBalance Pavilion, Sacramento, CA. 7:00 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM).
Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6’3″, Utah), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5″, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8″, France), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11″, Texas), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6’11″, UMass)
Projected Sacramento Starting Lineup: PG Beno Udrih (#19, 6’3″, Slovenia), SG Jermaine Taylor (#4, 6’4″, UCF), SF Omri Casspi (#18, 6’9″, Israel), PF Jason Thompson (#34, 6’11″, Rider), C DeMarcus Cousins (#15, 6’11″, Kentucky)
I’ll keep this short. As the last two games have proven, the Blazers don’t have much of an offense if opponents can take LaMarcus Aldridge out of the equation. Tonight, the Western Conference-worst Sacramento Kings boast center Samuel Dalambert, who effectively shut Aldridge down the last time these two teams played.
Simply put, Portland has to win tonight. They haven’t just lost the last two games, they’ve looked absolutely atrocious doing so. Gerald Wallace came out of his shell last night, hit a few threes, and went hard after rebounds and loose balls, and that was about the only positive. The performance should be enough to move him into the starting lineup, probably in place of Nicolas Batum, who would move to the second unit. Brandon Roy will not play tonight, as it is the second night of a back-to-back. Rudy Fernandez is making the trip to Sacramento with the team, but as of now it’s questionable whether he’ll play as he gets over an illness. My guess is Nate McMillan will push him hard to do so as he won’t have Roy available tonight.
The Kings are bad under normal circumstances, but tonight they’re playing without Tyreke Evans, out three weeks with a foot injury. Trade deadline acquisition Marcus Thornton has played well in his place since coming over from New Orleans, but he isn’t nearly the player Evans is. The reality is that we shouldn’t even be talking about the Kings right now, as this should be the kind of team the Blazers can take care of routinely. The schedule only gets tougher from here—the Magic/Heat back-to-back is next week, as is a rematch with the Hawks. The Blazers need to take these quote-unquote “easy” wins where they can get them, and tonight is certainly one of those.