Preseason Game 2 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz

Portland gets one more shot at Utah with a chance to for an undeafted preseason. Photo courtesy of OregonLive.

Blazers: 1-0

Jazz: 0-1

Game Details: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT. 6:00 PM. TV: CSNW Radio: KXTG (750 AM)

Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Raymond Felton (#5, 6’1”, North Carolina), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5″, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8”, France), PF Gerald Wallace (#3, 6’7″, Alabama), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6’11″, UMass)

Projected Utah Starting Lineup: PG Devin Harris (#5, 6’3”, Wisconsin), SG Raja Bell (#19, 6’5”, Florida International), SF C.J. Miles (#34, 6’6”, Skyline High School Dallas, TX), PF Mehmet Okur  (#13, 6’11”, Yalova Turkey), C Al Jefferson (#25 6’10”, Prentiss High School Mississippi)

I’m not going to spend too much time on this. We saw how it went down on Monday. Utah came out flat, and didn’t make it out of the first quarter. There’s a chance that will happen again. It’s likely that Utah, being at home, will at least play a little bit better. It might not make a difference.

Like I said in my recap of Monday’s blowout win, it’s unwise to take too much away from game one of a two game preseason. That being said, Utah’s in a bit of trouble. The Jazz have a decent inside game with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors, but Millsap is out for right now and Al Jefferson usually takes a couple of weeks–or months–to find his rhythm.

Favors, however, was Utah’s highlight Monday. The second-year player out of Georgia Tech finished with 25 points to lead all scorers. That’s a good sign, seeing as rookie big Enes Kanter managed only 1-of-7 from the floor and Mehmet Okur missed the only shot he attempted.

Utah’s back-court rotations won’t look too much different in game two. It might be safe to say that Josh Howard gets a few more than four and a half minutes, but other than that Utah will be like Portland, playing the guys that played on Monday.

As for Portland, the big news is that the roster has been finalized. Chris Johnson has secured the 15th and final roster spot. CJ played more than 26 minutes on Monday, and might get those minutes again on Wednesday. Earl Barron’s gone, but he didn’t play at all in the first game, so that won’t make a difference.

In a regulation length preseason, the final game is usually a rest game for starters. But that happens only after two or three good runs. With only a single game in the bank, Nate McMillan might let his guys run, and maybe even limit some of his rotations. I could be wrong though, it’s been known to happen. Maybe Nate takes the opportunity to give some of the regulars part of the night off.

Either way, I do expect Wednesday to not be quite as one-sided as Monday night.

Here are a couple of things that to watch for:

  • Where the minutes come for Elliot Williams: Monday night Elliot Williams looked sharp, hit a bunch of shots, and had himself a nice little game. Unfortunately he had to wait until the fourth quarter to get on the floor. Nate platooned Elliot and Nolan Smith Monday, so lets see if he does it again. Early minutes for Elliot Williams might be a good sign.
  • How Utah Responds: It’s still a preseason game, so the outcome doesn’t mean anything, but the Jazz did get beat wire-to-wire their last time out and probably don’t want to do that again in front of their home crowd. I expect Devin Harris to play a little bit better, and for Utah to try to get Al Jefferson going early. If they can do that, and limit Portland’s easy baskets, they’ve definitely have a chance to make up for the way the came out in game one.
  • Portland’s road play: Every year, the Blazers live and die by how they play on the road. Portland needs to win on the road, and they need to do it on a regular basis. A great time to start winning on the road will be their first time out on the road. Utah is a tough place to play. Those fans will be out on Wednesday, so its on the Blazers to show up, or suffer the same fate that befell that Jazz in the first half of the preseason.

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Twitter: @mikeacker | @ripcityproject

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