Blazers Week Ahead: April 2-7
Monday, April 2, 2012
This Week's Matchups
JAZZ AT BLAZERS
7 p.m. Monday at Rose Garden (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key match-up: LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Al Jefferson
Technically, Aldridge is a power forward and Jefferson a center. But it’s hard to imagine LaMarcus won’t be guarding the 6-foot-10, 289 pound behemoth at some point. Jefferson is leading the Jazz with 19.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Aldridge is leading the Blazers with 21.6 and 8.1 rebounds per game. An outcome is never as simple as “which star will outplay the other?” But in this case, whoever performs best individually could have a major impact on the game.
To win: At 30.7 percent, Utah is not a great 3-point shooting team. You always want to apply ball pressure when possible, but this may be a case of “let ‘em shoot” — assuming the Blazers can get some rebounds.
NETS AT BLAZERS
7 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Garden (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key match-up: Deron Williams vs. Raymond Felton
In a point-guard dominated league Williams is among the best in the league. Him being the most sought after free agent in the upcoming offseason is justified. Felton, meanwhile, is having one of the worst seasons in the NBA among starting point guards — but has been playing better in the second half.
But while Felton’s offense is coming a long, his defense still needs a lot of work. Wednesday will be a good day for him to step it up.
To win: Despite the Blazers weakness in the front-court, they still have more size than New Jersey. LaMarcus Aldridge could be overpowering inside and Portland should win — so long as the Nets don’t get a charge from former Blazer Gerald Wallace.
BLAZERS AT MAVERICKS
5:30 p.m. Friday at American Airlines Center, Dallas (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key match-up: Wesley Matthews vs. Jason Terry
The reigning champs may not have the size they did last year, but they are just as dangerous from the perimeter. Dirk Nowitzki finally earned his glory with a mesmerizing playoff run last season, but Jason Terry played a significant role in that title and is just as effective today. Matthews likes to score. We know this. But Friday might be a good day for him to focus on defense.
To win: Dallas was better than Portland before the Blazers made all their trades. They are certainly better now. For Portland to have a chance — especially on the road — they are going to need a big game from an unusual suspect such as Luke Babbitt or Jonny Flynn.
BLAZERS AT BUCKS
5:30 p.m. Saturday at Bradley Center, Milwaukee (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key match-up: Drew Gooden vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
Gooden actually got the better of Aldridge the last time these two teams met. And Milwaukee really got the better of Portland with a 29-point win at the Rose Garden. The Bucks are playing good basketball and still vying for a playoff spot. They will motivated, and Aldridge needs to play like his All-Star self.
To win: The Bucks are not a great rebounding team. Then again, neither is Portland. Saturday, they are going to have to beat Milwaukee — and undersized team still trying to do big things.