Blazers: 27-29 (4th Northwest Division)
Bucks: 27-28 (3rd Central Division)
Game Details: Bradley Center Milwaukee, WI 5:30 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 Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8”, MSB Le Mans, France) PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11”, Texas), C Joel Przybilla (#10, 7’1”, Minnesota)
Projected Bucks Starting Lineup: PG Brandon Jennings (#3, 6’1”, Oak Hill Academy High School), SG Monta Ellis (#11, 6’3”, Lanier High School), SF Shaun Livingston (#9, 6’7”, Peoria Central High School), PF Ersan Illysova (#7, 6’10”, FC Barcelona), C Ekpe Udoh (#13, 6’7”, Baylor)
I’ll keep it brief, since previewing back-to-backs always seems like a lot of repetition. Portland plays the Bucks Saturday evening in Milwaukee. The last time these two teams faced each other it was in the Rose Garden, and as I said at the time, it was one of the most surreal experiences ever.
There was also a basketball game. In that basketball game, the Bucks shot 11-of-21 from deep, and basically destroyed the Blazers. Milwaukee is still very much alive in the Eastern Conference Playoff race, they’re a game behind New York for eighth, so every night is like a Playoff game for them.
We’re all well aware, and tired of talking about, Portland’s situation RE: the Playoffs. If the Blazers need to look anywhere else for motivation, anywhere besides the aforementioned p-word, they don’t have to look far. Getting blown out at home in front of your now retired franchise player should be motivation enough.
Saturday for Portland is going to be about establishing defense. The Bucks are a team of jump shooters, and like any team of jump shooters, you let them have good looks and they’ll kill you, you make them miss early on and they struggle.
It’s also going to be about consistency. Can Ray Felton follow up his 30-point night in Dallas with another big game in Milwaukee? Can LaMarcus Aldridge translate his late-gamesmanship into 48 minutes of dominance? Can Portland’s role players make the right plays at the right times to give the Blazers what they need to win?
There are a lot of variables in this game to consider. It’s winnable for sure. To give themselves the best chance of getting that victory (and moving a small step forward to the time just before the Blazers are eliminated from post season contention when talking about the Playoffs is a real thing), they are going to have to wipe their memories clean of what transpired in Dallas.
Coach Kaleb Canales has talked about taking it won game at a time. He’s said numerous times the team with think about a give win or a loss until 12:01 AM then move on to getting ready for the next night. Time to see if they can put that theory into practice. This season isn’t over yet. A win on Saturday gives us a tiny shred of hope. We all know what a loss means.
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