The Trail Blazers will be taking on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at 7:30 p.m. PST. For the first time this preseason, the game will be televised live on NBATV. Be sure to tune in and watch Portland fight for redemption after losing to LAC, 81-89, in the preseason opener. Like last time, the Trail Blazers will be without LaMarcus Aldridge (knee), but they should be otherwise at full force.
Nicolas Batum is set to return to the court tonight after receiving a concussion in practice on October 8th. He will likely play limited minutes as a precaution, but the Blazers will have plenty of players ready to go. Dorell Wright has since returned after missing Portland’s previous meeting with LAC due to a dislocated finger. The same goes for Mo Williams who missed the preseason opener with a sprained ankle.
Players to watch:
Nicolas Batum – Brain injuries can behave mysteriously. If Batum experiences any returning symptoms and is pulled early, it could mean another week of rest for the small forward. Expect him to be eager to contribute, but don’t expect a 110% effort. His presence on the wing will be important for Portland’s spacing—something they struggled with against the Clippers the first time around.
Thomas Robinson – T-Rob will get the starting nod in the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge. This is his chance to do some damage on offense, since Blake Griffin couldn’t defend a tree. His possible success hinges on the defensive performance of DeAndre Jordan, who Robin Lopez will have to keep busy.
DeAndre Jordan – Speaking of DeAndre, he had a monster game against the shorthanded Blazers in the opener, tallying 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 21 minutes. Without Aldridge again, the Blazers will need to be extra aggressive if they want to score inside.
I consider this game to be Portland’s first real test of the preseason. Losing to the Phoenix Suns was disappointing, but not unexpected with so many Blazer injuries, and beating up the Utah Jazz two games in a row is about as satisfying as bringing a checkers set to a kindergarten class and emerging undefeated. Contrarily, the Clippers are in the upper echelon of the Western Conference. A healthy win tonight would bode well for the coming season.