Blazers Week Ahead: April 9-15
Monday, April 9, 2012
This Week’s Matchups
BLAZERS VS. ROCKETS
7 p.m. Monday at Rose Garden (CSN cable channel 37)
Key matchup: Luis Scola vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
Scola doesn’t have the notoriety of power forwards like Blake Griffin or Kevin Love, but to dismiss him as unworthy is a mortal sin in the hoops world. The Argentine is averaging 16 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and has some of the better post moves in the game.
To win: This game probably would have been more meaningful last week, or if there weren’t so many teams between Houston and Portland, but the fact of the matter is the Rockets are currently in sixth place — four games ahead of the Blazers with nine games to go. The game is actually probably more important to Houston as it may determine playoff seeding.
BLAZERS VS. WARRIORS
7 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Garden (Channel 8 and ESPN)
Key matchup: Nicolas Batum vs. Klay Thompson
Thompson isn’t going to win Rookie of the Year, but the Washington State product has taken advantage of opportunity and is now averaging 11 points a game while having started 18 contests. Like Batum, Thompson is thin but elusive and could create problems if neglected.
To win: The Blazers have struggled vs. Golden State in the past, but usually in Oakland. There is no easy win in the NBA, but when you mix in the depleted Warriors roster with the fact that Portland is playing at home and clinging to its playoff hopes, it would take a meltdown for the Blazers to give this one away.
BLAZERS VS. MAVERICKS
7 p.m. Friday at Rose Garden (CSN cable Channel 37 and ESPN)
Key matchup: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Blazers defense
The Mavericks look anything but primed to repeat as champions given the fact that they are currently in eighth place in the West. Additionally, Dirk Nowitzki’s numbers (21.2 ppg, .458 FG%) are down across the board. But anybody who has seen Dirk hit four straight 22-foot fadeaways off his left foot knows that he is capable of having a big night anytime. Sometimes, you just have to hope he is off.
To win: No matter how discouraged the Blazers may become with Nowitzki hitting tough shots, they have to continue to make him work. Portland has confidence it can beat Dallas after Friday’s win behind Raymond Felton’s 30 points. Whether they can do it again remains to be seen.
BLAZERS AT KINGS
3 p.m. Sunday at Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key matchup: Isaiah Thomas vs. Raymond Felton
Since landing the starting job, Thomas has looked like anything but the 60th pick in last year’s draft. Averaging 11.1 points with several 20-plus performances, the 5-foot-9 guard has been playing big.
To win: Sacramento is undersized, but then again, so are the Blazers. Even so, feeding LaMarcus Aldridge down low and hoping he feels motivated to get to the basket and not just settle for jumpers should prove favorable for Portland.