Game 59 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors


Blazers: 27-31 (4th Northwest Division)

Warriors: 22-34 (4th Pacific Division)

Game Details: Rose Garden Arena Portland, OR. 7:30 PM. TV: KGW and ESPN. Radio: 750 AM (KXTG)

Projected Blazer 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 J.J. Hickson (#21, 6’9”, North Carolina State), C Joel Przybilla (#10, 7’1”, Minnesota)

Projected Warriors Starting Lineup: PG Nate Robinson (#2, 5’9”, Washington), SG Klay Thompson (#11, 6’7”, Washington State), SF Dorell Wright (#1, 6’9”, South Kent High School), PF David Lee (#10, 6’9”, Florida) C Jeremy Tyler (#3, 6’10”, Tokyo Apache)

It’s very very unlikely we’ll get anybody from the Portland Trail Blazers’ head office to admit that they’ve thrown the towel in on this season. However, if you are one of those super optimistic fans that held out hope that there was going to be a post to the 2011-12 season, the sidelining of LaMarcus Aldridge will be that sign from above that tells you that although after tonight there will be six regular season games left to play, 11-12 is now officially.

For those fans that live under rocks (or don’t have a Google alert set for “Trail Blazers Injuries”) here’s the short story. LA has something wrong with his hip. He’s being evaluated. He won’t play Wednesday night when the Blazers take on the Warriors in the Rose Garden. Make of that what you will.

I’m sure the brass will play this one pretty close to the vest, seeing as this season has seen the amnestying of one franchise player and the waiving of another (albeit potential) franchise player due to injury. Even if LaMarcus’s leg had fallen off in Vail last night, I would imagine he would be listed tonight as day-to-day.

Zero minutes for LA means more minutes for J.J. Hickson and probably Craig Smith. That means that even if Portland loses tonight, there will probably be at least one bull in a China shop moment. No LA also means that we’ve got a built-in excuse for that loss when and if it occurs. Not that we still have to excuse losses this late in the year.

Coach Kaleb Canales has a choice to make tonight: play rotation guys and make everybody believe that this game still matters, or go all bench guys all night and admit that this thing is really over. My guess is he keeps with the rotation for the most part. It’s nice to see that the coach cares, I just think the fans that stuck it out (or maybe couldn’t get tickets to see James Adomian at the Helium Comedy Club) and decided to hit the RG on a Wednesday night deserve to be rewarded with 48 minutes of Luke Babbitt knocking down threes off of sweet dimes from Jonny Flynn.

Here’s a couple things to watch for:

  • Nolan Smith: Nolan has struggled for the most part since basically falling behind Jonny Flynn in the rotation. Nolan hasn’t scored more than three points since the 23rd of last month. His highlights have been limited to hard fouls and bad turnovers. Tonight would be a good night for Nolan to play a little bit. If he plays more than 10 minutes, let’s hope he gets at least a couple of buckets.
  • Three-point defense: Houston destroyed the Blazers from deep. Golden State shoots just as many threes as the Rockets. Canales wants to emphasize defense, especially on the perimeter. Ten was the magic number to avoid getting to. So that’s the number we’re looking for tonight.
  • Jamal Crawford vs. Nate Robinson: Seattle versus Seattle is always fun to watch. Crawford beat one fellow Seattle native in Jason Terry. Let’s see if he can do it again.

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Twitter: @mikeacker | @ripcityproject