Jan. 23, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) is called for a foul as he defends Sacramento Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Game 23 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings

Blazers: 13-9 (4th Northwest Division)

Kings: 6-15 (5th Pacific Division)

Game Details: Power Balance Pavilion Sacramento, CA. 7:00 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: 750 AM (KXTG)

Projected Blazers Starting Lineup: PG Raymond Felton (#5, 6’1’’, North Carolina), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5’’, Marquette), SF Gerald Wallace (#3, 6’7’’, Alabama), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11’’, Texas), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6’11’’, Massachusetts)

Projected Kings Starting Lineup: PG Tyreke Evans (#13, 6’6’’, Kentucky), SG Jimmer Fredette (#7, 6’2’’, Brigham Young), SF John Salmons (#5, 6’6’’, Miami), PF Jason Thompson (#34, 6’11’’, Rider), C DeMarcus Cousins (#15, 6’11’’, Kentucky)

This is going to be a taking care of business game. It’s been proven that Portland can win at home, and win big. It has yet to be proven that they can win in anybody else’s home. I know that’s been said a thousand ways, and it is getting as boring and repetitive to write as I’m sure it is to read.

But the truth is clear and simple: The Blazers will be doomed to second tier in the Playoffs until they can get some road victories. And the focus will be squarely on this team’s performances outside of the Rose Garden until they find their groove and start taking care of business.

Really, there’s no better way to start than on the road against Sacramento. This Kings team has been in relative stages of turmoil since day one of 2011-12. They’ve lost five straight, they’ve had some untimely injuries, and they just haven’t been playing good basketball.

The Blazers knocked the Kings off twice already at home, but times by limiting Sacramento’s scorers and daring DeMarcus Cousins to do something worthwhile on the court. That formula should work at Power Balance nee Arco.

So defense is taken care of. But let’s be honest, what’s been killing Portland on the road hasn’t really been defense. The Blazers, as a team minus LaMarcus Aldridge, have had trouble getting it going on offense without the help of the friendly Rose Garden crowd.

Sacramento isn’t going to be the type of team that is going to play a lot of high-pressure defense. That’s good for Portland. Although it probably won’t give them too much to work with, game-tape wise, there’s no better shot in the arm than having a night when offense comes easy in a hostile environment.

Portland’s offensive scheme should be pretty standard at this point: attack, attack, attack. Again, the Kings are a team that isn’t better than the Blazers at any position. You could argue that DMC has an advantage over Marcus Camby when it comes to offense, but it will take more than just platitudes about potential to convince me.

LaMarcus might have a little trouble with a physical and athletic defender like Jason Thompson, but he’s prone to getting into foul trouble early then disappearing. John Salmons can only hope to contain Gerald Wallace. Ever time Wesley Matthews gets the ball he should got at Jimmer Fredette, the rook has yet to prove he can guard NBA players. The Tyreke Evans/Raymond Felton matchup might be an x-factor, but Tyreke can’t beat a team like the Blazers all by his lonesome.

Portland has an opportunity to get this month off to a really great star by putting together back-to-back blowouts before facing a good Denver team at home. Beating the Kings in SacTown won’t be quite as easy as beating the Bobcats in Portland, but that’s no excuse. Losing to Sacramento at any point of any season and in any location is the opposite of taking care of business.

I won’t give you anything I watching for, because I’m still traveling and probably won’t be able to watch any of this one either. I’ll be back to actually watching games by Saturday I promise.

Email me: [email protected]

Twitter: @mikekacker | @ripcityproject

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