Game Details: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC. 4:00 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 Charlotte Starting Lineup: PG D.J. Augustin (#14, 6’0″, Texas), SG Gerald Henderson (#15, 6’4″, Duke), SF Dominic McGuire (#5, 6’9″, Fresno State), PF Boris Diaw (#32, 6’8″, France), C Kwame Brown (#54, 6’11″, Glynn Academy)
The Blazers may be at the high point of their season right now: a seven-game road win streak: their longest since 1991, which most recently featured a win over the most polarizing team in recent league history. But it’s not just that the Blazers beat Miami that should have them feeling this good: anybody who watched that game can recognize that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more complete, consistent, cohesive performance Portland has turned in during the 2010-11 season. Against arguably the two most dangerous offensive players in the league, Portland’s notoriously spotty defense showed very few lapses. Gerald Wallace had his breakout game as a Blazer, scoring 22 off the bench. Everybody made shots, and everybody contributed. It was the definition of a team win.
Needless to say, it would be more than a little disappointing if the Blazers followed up a win over the Miami Heat with a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.The first half of their game last week was as sloppy and ugly as the Miami game was impressive, and Portland still ran away with the game in the second half. Stephen Jackson is still injured, but now Joel Przybilla is sadly added once again to that list. It’s a bummer—Joel seemed to be finding his role on the Bobcats, and you hate to see him get hurt again. So who’s left? D.J. Augustin, Boris Diaw, Gerald Henderson…nobody the Blazers should be afraid of in the least, as long as they don’t make too many dumb mistakes. And even then, they still have a good shot.
Expect Gerald Wallace to put on a show tonight. When the Blazers and Bobcats met at the Rose Garden, it was Portland’s opportunity to welcome Przybilla and Dante Cunningham back and show their appreciation, and the Blazers’ fans did not disappoint. Now, it’s Wallace’s turn to have his homecoming. The crowd will probably give the only All-Star in their franchise’s history a huge ovation, and while Wallace undoubtedly still has love for the fans in Charlotte, the same cannot be said of his relationship with their front office. Recent comments he’s made to the media make clear that he was completely blindsided by the trade. There’s no doubt that he’s ready for a little revenge tonight. And given Charlotte’s sorry nature at the moment, that might be enough.