Blazers week ahead
Monday, March 19, 2012
Bucks at Blazers
7 p.m. Tuesday at Rose Garden (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key matchup: Wesley Matthews vs. Monta Ellis
Ellis was one of the bigger names to be dealt at the trade deadline, and considering he was averaging 21.9 points with the Warriors this year, the attention was justified. The speedy guard has the ability has the ability to create his own shot on every possession, and if the Blazers want to get back to the .500 mark, Matthews and Co. will have to shut down Monta.
To win: Ellis and Brandon Jennings make up one of the NBA’s most dynamic backcourts. But with Andrew Bogut gone, the Bucks are weak on the post, which should allow LaMarcus Aldridge to have a big game. Should he draw double teams, he will need the likes of Nic Batum and Matthews to hit outside shots.
Grizzlies at Blazers
7 p.m. Thursday at Rose Garden (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key matchup: LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Marc Gasol
Aldridge has likely passed up Pau Gasol in the NBA’s power-forward rankings, but there may be another Gasol he’s chasing right now. Averaging just shy of 16 points and 10 rebounds, Marc has kept the Gasol name in the All-Star game and only seems to be getting better.
To win: Memphis has been as surprisingly good as the Blazers have been surprisingly bad. Despite missing Zach Randolph for most of the year, the Grizzlies sit at fifth place in the Western Conference standings. Five players scored in double digits for Portland in its home win over the Grizzlies earlier this year. The Blazers may need similar balance to get another victory.
Blazers at Lakers
7:30 p.m. Friday at Staples Center (KGW Channel 8)
Key matchup: Nicolas Batum vs. Kobe Bryant
Kobe is Kobe. He’s 33 years old and leading the league in scoring at 29.0 points a game. He has single-handedly taken over games against the Blazers before and can certainly do it again. Portland has struggled in Los Angeles (as have most teams) and will need someone like Batum to at least challenge Bryant on some of his jumpers.
To win: Portland obviously must contain Bryant, but can’t let the likes of Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol dominate the interior. With Marcus Camby gone, Portland’s front-court is that much weaker and if the Lakers get comfortable in the post, it could be a long night for the Blazers.
Warriors at Blazers
7 p.m. Sunday at Rose Garden (CSN cable Channel 37)
Key matchup: David Lee vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
Lee certainly isn’t in the category of a Kevin Love or Marc Gasol, but he is one of the more underrated forwards in the league. Averaging 19.1 points while possessing out-of-the-building leaping ability, Lee poses lots of potential problems for the Blazers.
To win: Portland knocked off Golden State in their last matchup, which may have surprised some folks given the Blazers’ recent history of futility in Oakland. That was one of the rare instances this year in which Portland won a close game, and that fourth-quarter resolve may be appropriate once more.