Game 17 Preview: Trail Blazers vs. Sixers

Game Time:  4:00 p.m.  TV:  CSNNW

The 76'ers are 4-13 on the season.  Their only wins have come against New York, Indiana, Milwaukee, and New Jersey.  But that doesn't matter because the Blazers have shown themselves capable of losing to anyone on a given night.

The 76'ers defense isn't bad, particularly in the backcourt.  But that doesn't matter because the Blazers are shooting themselves in the foot even against bad defenses.

The 76'ers are struggling for scoring, a team where "sharing the ball" becomes a byword for universal mediocrity.  But that doesn't matter because the Blazers have allowed worse offenses to get off the ropes and back in the fight.

The 76'ers have talent in Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, both players who have pushed the Blazers around before.  But that doesn't matter because the Blazers get pushed around by the Johan Petros of the world.

The 76'ers have young guys in Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes, and Thaddeus Young.  The Blazers also field younger, less-consistent, yet exciting players in Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Dante Cunningham, and Armon Johnson.  But that doesn't matter because it seems no matter which way the coin flips on these guys' games it isn't enough to push the team over the top.

This may seem bleak, but he Blazers are coming off of their bleakest night of the year.  What does matter now?  Heart, desire, teamwork, effort, passion, fire, confidence, and the whuppin' that Portland should put on the 76'ers becoming reality.  If Portland can claim that their team isn't as bad as the record indicates, well so can Philadelphia.  That's passed gas in the wind.  What matters is that the Blazers have been playing exactly like an 8-8 team and if that trend continues they could well find themselves 8-9 and then 8-10 following tomorrow's Boston game.

Portland's game is predicated on a few things:  rebounding, keeping opposing drivers out of the paint, creating pressure with movement on offense and then exploiting that pressure by hitting threes, and offensive rebounding any misses for extra points and to keep the opponent from running easily.  Indifferent rebounding, missing open shots, motionless offense, and fouling instead of defending will get the Blazers into trouble they can't get out of.   But if the Blazers play with agility and alacrity then you can start thinking about exploiting matchups, running the Sixers ragged, dominating the glass, and walking away with a satisfying win.  This will either be a great effort for the Blazers or a completely anemic game in which they will pray that Philadelphia registers similar incompetence.   Either way, "None of that matters" is going to be the tagline.  Either it won't matter because the Blazers will put on an unconquerable performance or it won't matter because nothing they do will be significant or enduring and even an ugly win will seem empty of promise.

Let's see which way the not mattering takes hold.

See the Philly build-up at Liberty Ballers.

Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.  In the spirit of the night, only one question matters.  Answer it four times, however you wish.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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