Game 12 Semi-Preview: Blazers vs. Hawks

Game Time:  4:00 PM Pacific  TV:  Comcast

We just played Atlanta two weeks ago and their basic constitution hasn't changed since then.  If you want the full rundown you can click here.  For most an update will do.

Atlanta comes into this contest 8-2 so the Blazers aren't the only good team they've finished on top of.  They also hold victories over Denver and Boston.  Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford have been scoring at will.  Josh Smith has gone on a rebounding tear of late and has scored a few himself.  The Hawks are playing great basketball and are looking dangerous.

As stated in the earlier preview, the Blazers are going to have to keep Atlanta away from the offensive boards, match Johnson's scoring, and find some way to contain his backcourt mates.  Portland will also have to bring energy and be ready for a heck of a fight.  Home and away has never mattered as much as intensity when these two teams meet.  The Blazers fell victim to that in the last game.  They need to capitalize on it this game.  Rebounding, points in the paint, and dunks are all indicators of how strong each team's attack is.  A final key would be the improving play of Greg Oden and the team's increasing confidence in him.  He made a couple moves that made Al Horford look like he was back in kindergarten when the teams last met.  A steady diet of that could turn this game.

Frankly this feels like either an energy-filled win that the Blazers just eke out or an energy-less blowout leaving the Hawks laughing behind their hands and Portland happy with a 4-1 trip.  Right now I'm leaning towards the latter.  It doesn't feel like the team has the consistent will to accomplish the former yet.  But in the famous words of Principal Seymour Skinner, "Prove me wrong, kids.  Prove me wrong."  It would certainly be a serious win for the Blazers if they could capture it.

Check out the Atlanta chat at PeachTreeHoops.

Enter the Jersey Contest form for tonight's game here.  Yes, there's a "Travis Outlaw's Minutes" question.  Just put "0" and walk away with your 10 points.  Note that his absence does make this a non-regulation form for the purposes of winning a jersey instantly with a perfect 100 score.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com

P.S.  Hey Blazers, please don't make me do a Shakespearian tragedy-themed recap again.

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