The official 2013-2014 NBA schedule was released today, and the Portland’s very first matchup is on the road in Phoenix. Though the Suns aren’t exactly top dog in the NBA, the Western Conference, or even the Pacific Division, I’m glad to see them on opening night. Why? Because after being trounced by the Summer League juggernaut TWICE, Portland’s rookies will have something to prove from day 1.
October 30th at 7:00 pm; mark your calendars. On paper, Portland should win by a landslide, but last I checked no franchise had an origami basketball court. The Suns finished with the 4th worst record (25-57) in the NBA last season, but that didn’t stop them from beating the Blazers in 2/3 matchups. In Las Vegas Summer League, their bench beat Portland’s handily, so it will be a good test to see if Portland’s “paper” progress is ready to function as a unit.
The anticipated starting lineups will be:
(PG): Damian Lillard
(SG): Wesley Matthews
(SF): Nicolas Batum
(PF): LaMarcus Aldridge
(C): Robin Lopez
(PG): Goran Dragic
(SG): Eric Bledsoe
(SF): Caron Butler
(PF): Markieff Morris
(C): Marcin Gortat
Bledsoe, acquired from the Clippers, has traditionally played point guard, but Phoenix head coach, Jeff Hornacek, plans to play him at the 2. This is just fine with Bledsoe, but it could create problems for the Blazers. Wesley Matthews lacks lateral quickness on defense, and Bledsoe boasts startling agility. This matchup could be the chink in Portland’s armor.
“I’m a basketball player. You put me at the 5, I’m going to try to play the position the best way I can. So whatever position Coach Hornacek decides to put me in, I’m going to play it the best way I can.”
Portland’s bread and butter will be their bench. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird to me too. Between new additions McCollum, Wright, and Robinson, Portland has the upper hand. They may have been outplayed in Summer League, but their role is different now. They will be playing relief minutes for Portland’s powerhouse starters instead of trying to hold down the fort themselves.
Just writing this up is raising my excitement for the NBA season to begin. Only 84 more days…