Blazers: 15-13 (3rd Northwest Division)
Wizards: 6-22 (4th Southeast Division)
Game Details: Rose Garden Arena, Portland, OR. 7:00 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: 750 AM (KXTG)
Projected Blazers Starting Lineup: PG Raymond Felton (#5, 6’1’’, North Carolina), SG Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8’’, MSB Le Mans, France), SF Gerald Wallace (#3, 6’7’’, Alabama), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11’’, Texas), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6’11’’, Massachusetts)
Projected Wizards Starting Lineup: PG John Wall (#2, 6’4”, Kentucky), SG Nick Young (#1, 6’7”, USC), SF Chris Singleton (#31, 6’8”, Florida State), PF Trevor Booker (#35, 6’8”, Clemson), C JaVale McGee (#34, 7′, Nevada)
First let me apologize for what I said at the close of my recap for the Dallas game. I said Washington was the worst team in the league. The Wizards are not the worst team in the league. They aren’t even the worst team in their division. That honor belongs to Charlotte, with three fewer wins than Washington. When the Bobcats came through Portland at the beginning of this month, the Blazers ran them off the court 112-68, their second straight home victory of 20 or more.
There is nothing this team needs more right now than to have a repeat performance of that Charlotte game. It’s what should happen (the Wiz are a pretty abysmal team, and they just won and haven’t won twice in a row yet this season). It’s what the Blazers and their fans want to happen. But will it happen?
In part that’s going to be up to how Portland starts this game, and it’s going to depend on guard play. Not because Washington is particularly strong at the back court positions, but because the Blazers need to have a strong performance from their guards regardless of the competition.
Big news out of Blazers’ HQ is that Nicolas Batum will get the start over Wesley Matthews. Not the move that people were expecting, probably not a type of move that will make too much difference, and definitely not the game in which a move of any type is going to have much, or any, lasting impression.
Still, it’s a move. Maybe if Nicolas goes for 40 and Raymond Felton doesn’t turn it over a bunch or miss all of his shot attempts it will be enough to appease the masses for about a minute. Maybe if it doesn’t work out, coach Nate McMillan will get the hint that other things, bigger things, might be in order.
Here are a couple of things I’m going to be watching for:
- Raymond Felton: I mentioned him already, but it bares repeating. Raymond is getting close to being on his last legs with this team. He needs a big night. John Wall, his Washington counterpart, is going to be a tough cover for him but he should be able to take advantage on offense of the size difference. Maybe get a post-up or two and get to the rim. Felton needs to perform on offense to get people to forget about how bad he’s been. For Ray, there’s not time like the present.
- Nicolas Batum: Nic’s back in the spot where he probably feels most comfortable, the starting lineup, but not in the spot where’s he’s used to playing, the two and not the three. Gerald Wallace and Nic on the court at the same time is a good look, lots of active hands and aggressive defense. If Portland can turn Washington over a lot at the beginning of the game they can build a lead and make this a two or three quarter night. That will be key since it’s the start of the last back-to-back-to-back.
- How many proposals will there be: It’s Valentine’s Day after all. I’m setting the over/under at 2.5
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