FanPost

First 8th of the Blazers Season Previewed

My Name is Nolan Thomas and this is my first post on Blazers Edge but I have been reading almost everything written on this sight since the Sonics left Seattle. The idea behind this post and the follow up posts is to look at the season in chunks. I will look at the season in 10, 8 game chunks ( 12 games in this first post ) and try and predict the up coming games, and look at what I think the keys to the games will be. Then when that chunk of the season is over I will look at what actually happened compared to what I though would happen. I think this will be a cool way to look at the season and see if we see improvements over the course of the season.


Game 1 - Wed Oct 3rd vs. The L@kers
Well thanks NBA for letting Portland ease into the season, The Lakers are in most people top three teams going into the season. Nobody outside of Portland will be giving the Blazers much of a chance, and why should they the L@kers have no answer for Dwight Howard, they have a rookie point guard going up against a future hall of farmer, they still have Kobe Bryant, Paul Gasol would be the number one option on a good percentage of the teams in the league, and Ron Artest is still crazy. There are three reason for optimism though ....
#1 . The Trailblazers always play the L@kers tough at the Rose Garden. At one point the Lakers had lost a bunch of games in a row at the Garden even the national media picked up on the trend. Granted this new group of Blazers has never faced the L@kers, and this looks like the best iteration of the L@kers since the Shaq era, and the fact that that long winning streak has been broken, the Rose Garden is still not the easiest place for the L@kers to play.
#2. We catch the L@kers on the back half of a back to back, as they play on Opening night against the Dallas Mavericks. This advantage is mitigated by the fact that this is the second game of the season and fatigue shouldn't be that much of a problem.
#3. It's Halloween. Crazy S happens on Halloween and as far as the NBA goes the this Blazers squad beating this L@ker squad would be crazy.
Key Match Up
Damien Lillard vs. Steve Nash
Lillard makes his regular season debut against a two time MVP, future hall of famer, and new member of the L@kers Steven Nash. Normally a rookie would be at a sever disadvantage going up against such an accomplished veteran but I actually think Mr. Lillard has a few factors working in his favor, the first of which is that Blazers first preseason game was against these L@kers and that means he has played Nash once before and is thus less likely to be star stuck or nervous going up against such an accomplished player. Another factor to consider in Lillards favor is that Mr. Nash is not known for his lock down D, so Damien should be able to have a pretty good offensive night. One thing I will be paying close attention to is if the moment gets to Lillard, we have seen him struggle at the beginning of each new step, the first half of the first summer league game, the first quarter of the first pre season game, and just recently on the road in Utah struggles have been blamed on nerves. Will he struggle in his first regular season game ?
Prediction - L@akers win but the Blazers play hard and keep the score to single digitsBlazer Record 0 -1-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Game 2 - Friday November 2nd @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Again the NBA thanks for easing us into the season, facing two of the top three teams in the league in the first two games this time it is against the Thunder. The Thunder as you know by now have shaken up there roster electing to trade sixth man of the year winner James Harden to Houston for some players and some picks. Even though I think they lost that trade and they are slightly weaker then they were last year they still have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Ibaka, and a bunch of other solid basket ball players. This will be a tough game for the Blazers to win and will be the first road game in the NBA for a good portion of this Blazers roster. This is the Thunders home opener and the environment will be hostile, however I think there are mitigating circumstances that could lead to a Blazer win.
#1. Mitigating Factor is the Trade. I think this trade has the potential to severely disrupt the chemistry of this Thunder team. Form all accounts this Thunder team was very tight knit, and we have to wonder how the Thunders star players view the decision to trade away Mr. Harden. Maybe the Blazers can pounce on some chemistry issues and steal a W.
Key Match up
Nicholas Batum vs. Kevin Durant
Durant is a stud, probably the number 2 or 3 best player in the league, but for whatever reason he has really struggled against the Blazers on more then one occasion. Nic Batum as we all know signed a huge contract and he is as good a reason as any as to why Durant has struggled against the Blazers. Nic Batum will need to keep committed to improving his game throughout the year to prove he is worth the paper he signed, this will be an opportunity to show his worth against an elite talent in Kevin Durant. If Nic can shut down KD or at least hold him to a below average performance the Blazers chance to win will increase.
Prediction - First Blazer losing streak of the year, Thunder blow out the overmatched Blazers.Blazer Record 0 - 2
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Game 3 - Saturday November 3rd @ Houston Rockets
Blazers get both sides of the biggest NBA trade since the Dwight Howard deal, in their first Back-to-Back of the year. This Rockets team was looking like a mess previous to the trade, a bunch of assets with no real direction, but that has all changed with the acquisition of James Harden. Now this is a team focused on James Harden as the man with the support of Jeremy Lin and a bunch of young players. I think this is the first game that the Blazers have a good chance of winning, despite the fact that I think Harden will make this Rockets team better then they were. This is the 2nd game of a back to back for Houston as well as they play Atlanta the night before, but this is a young team and its really early in the season still so fatigue should not be a huge factor. I think the Blazers have one significant advantage
1#. Significant Advantage James Harden must learn how to be the man and the focus of a team. I think Harden will likely struggle at least initially to be the MAN. Life is much harder in the NBA when your not sharing the court with 2 USA Olympians every night. As Harden learns how to take on the Burden of Franchise playerdom I think the Rockets will struggle, future battles against the Rockets this season will be tougher then this one.

Key Match up
Wesley Matthews vs. James Harden
Can Wessy Wes D up Harden and give him struggles, or will Batum get this assignment?, will there be a swarm of doubles on Harden? I think Wesley Matthews and the rest of the Blazers team will be able to make Hardens life miserable as they focus there D at him in this game. Wesley Matthews has claimed all preseason he is ready to take his game to another level, and this would be a good opportunity to show his progression against the best young 2 Guard in the League, and a guy who just put a LOT of money in the bank.

Prediction - The first Blazer win doubles as the first Road win, and Triples as the first win in the second half of a Back 2 Back for the Blazers of the year.
Blazers Record1 - 2-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 4 - Monday November 5th @ Dallas Mavericks
Dallas is a mess, which is sad considering they won the title the last time the NBA played a full slate of games. Ever since they have been looking to secure another MAX level stud to play with Dirk and they have struck out with both D Will and Mr. Howard. So now they look a lot like last years Blazers, All star power forward surrounded by a supporting cast of mismatched veterans that other teams didn't care to keep. The Blazers have two significant advantages in this game
1# Significant Advantage - Dirk Nowvitski is hurt, and wont be able to play in this game. With Dirk out the Mavericks are not good. Sure the Mavericks feature a bunch of good professional basket ball players but nobody you would die to have.
2# Significant Advantage - Lamarcus Aldridge. LA is from Dallas and has had some of his biggest games against the Mavericks I see LA having his best game of the early season here. With Dirk out that should mean LA wont have to work as hard on the D side leaving him open to have a huge game on the O side.
Key Match up
Wesley Matthews vs. Vince Carter
With Dirk out I see Vince Carter pretending like he is still relevant in the NBA and trying to take over games for this Mavericks team. If Matthews keeps Carter to his half man status and keeps the half amazing side ensconced comfortably in the early 2000's then I doubt the Mavericks will be able to generate many points.
Prediction - First Blazer winning steak of the year. WWWOOOTTT!!!!! Potential for a Blazer Blow out victory depending on the size of LA's gameBlazers Record2 - 2-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 5 Thursday November 8th vs. the LA Clippers
By the time this game tips the world will know whether Obama has another 4 years or if Mitt Romney will be getting 4 years at the helm, or if TNT has devised away in the world of 2 billion television channels to show the complete 2nd game of there Thursday night double headers. The Clippers come to the Rose Garden boasting one of the best players in the league in Chris Paul and one of the most popular players in the league in Blake Griffin. The Clippers had a lot of buzz last year and they did make the playoffs one of only a few times in that franchises history. This summer they let Vinney Del Negro and Chris Paul play GM and they ended up with Jamal Crawford.... Suffice to say I think the Blazers have some advantages here,
1# Advantage - Lamarcus thinks he is the best Power Forward in the League, and if he wants to prove that he is the best this would be an ideal time for him to put a whooping on every KIA owners favorite NBA player on National TV. Lamarcus has a chance to show the world that it should be him getting the hype and not Blake Griffin.
2# Advantage - I do not think the Clippers are great, in fact I think they are highly overrated and this is the type of game I see them losing all year long, on the road against teams that they overlook like the Blazers. I think Portland can take advantage of this team in the Rose Garden.
3# Advantage - The Clippers are on the second night of a back to back, they play San Antonio the night before in a nationally televised game on ESPN. The Blazers will have had a few days off and a chance to practice which should help them prepare for this game.
Key Match up
Damien Lillard vs. Chris Paul
You probably wondering why I didn't pick LA vs. Griffin, and I admit that I could have easily picked that match up, and I am sure that is what TNT's talking heads will be discussing, but if the Blazers are going to win Lillard is going to have to keep Chris Paul contained. Particularly down the stretch I think Chris Paul can win this game by abusing Lillard. Lillard is going to be tested again here, in a big way Paul is the key to his team in away that can't be said for the other elite point guards that Lillard will have faced upto this point in the season. This also qualifies as another test of Lillard in the Moment as it will be his first nationally televised game will he be nervous and will he be able to overcome those nerves.
Prediction - 3 in a row for the Blazers as they shock the world and win at home on TNTBlazer Record 3-2-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Game 6 Saturday November 10th vs. San Antonio
The Spurs are very good, and have been the best regular season team the last few years. People keep wanting to Wright them off but they keep chugging along winning a lot of games in the process. The Spurs haven't been able to get over the hump in the playoff but there is no sign that they won't again be a good team. They still rely on Parker, Ignobly, and Duncan with a cast of solid role-players and the wonderful coaching of Mr. Popivich. The Blazers will be expected to lose this game, but there are a few rays of optimism availble to them 1# ray of optimism - Spurs are on the second half of a back to back, and while its early in the season the Spurs are one of the older teams in the league, they might feel more fatigue then the Blazers. If the Blazers can open up a lead Poppivich may yank his starters, as he has done in the past. Its probably way to early in the season to take this ray of optimisms seriously.

Key Match up
Lamarcus Aldridge vs. Tim Duncan - LA wants gets another chance to go up against a big name Power Forward and another chance to back up his best Power Forward in the game claim. LA has a chance to take it to one of the best power forwards of all time here. If LA can exploit this match up it might be enough to earn the Blazers a W and LA some all-star votes.
Prediction - Blazers fall to .500 on the young season and drop this game at home to the SpursBlazer Record 3-3-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Game 7 Monday November 12th vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are in a little bit of transition having sent Joe Johnson to Brooklyn, Josh Smith is in a contract year, and Al Harford is returning from injury plagued season. The Hawks are a perennial playoff team in the East, just good enough for seeds 3 through 5 but not good enough to beat teams like Boston or Miami. Atlanta will be an interesting team to watch this year to see what all the questions facing them amount to, On paper this is a talented team that should beat the Blazers but there are some cracks in the Hawks armor that the Blazer might be able to exploit
1# Chink in the armor one. Who is da man ? Now that Joe Johnsons gone there could be a question of who is the man for this Atlanta team, does Josh Smith start jacking up jump shots now that he thinks he is the man? Does Al Harford start doing non Al Harford things, thinking he is the man? How bout Jeff Teague does he forget about passing at all now that there wont be an all-star around to take the ball away from him. 2# Chink in the armor two 2nd half of a back to back for Atlanta, this season still not very old so the fatigue might not be a factor yet.
Key Match upDamian Lillard vs. Jeff Teague
Lillard should be more then comfortable by this point in time in the season, and this is a match up he needs to win. Don't get me wrong Teague is a good player gave us fits last year, but Lillard needs to be able to beat these kind of point guards out. If Lillard can play this match up to a huge advantage it could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Prediction - A close loss as Atlanta just escapes the Rose Garden with a single digit victory over the blazers.Blazer record 3-4
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 8 Tues November 13th @ Sacramento
The Kings have a lot of players who like to shoot, in fact any player on there team that gets the ball will probably shoot it. The Kings are not very good the Blazers should be able to beat this team and I think this is the kind of game Portland has to win if they want to fulfill Bill Simmons prediction of going 41-41 and making the playoffs. Before we go counting our eggs before they hatch there are a few reasons to believe that those eggs won hatch. #1 reason the victory egg wont hatch - Demarcus Cousins, when the big fella wants to play he can really play. The Blazers have no answer for Cousins if he decides he wants to own the Blazers front court he will, not really have a problem doing that. #2 reason the victory egg wont hatch - This is the 2nd night of a back to back having played Atlanta the night before the Blazers might have some fatigue issues in this game and they are not good enough to not be playing there best and beat anybody so that is a situation to monitor. Key Match up JJ Hickson v Demarcus Cousins JJ Hickson returns to play the team that waived him and allowed him to become property of the Blazers last year. JJ is starting the season as a very undersized starting center for the Blazers and he will have a tough match up on his hands against Cousins I think JJ will have to play Cousins even for the Blazers to have there best chance to win this game. If Cousins dominates Hickson and the other Blazer bigs this could turn into an ugly loss. Prediction - Blazers take this Victory over the Kings and prove that they are not "Kings Bad"Prediction 4 - 4-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 9 Friday Nov 16th vs. Houston
Okay this is our second game against Houston already in this young season, and I think this will be a good shot at another victory. I do not think Houston will have there issues sorted out from the big James Harden trade yet. Harden has to learn to play with his new teammates still and learn how to be the man every night. Portland has the advantage of knowing who the Man is and the roles of each of the other players. I do think Portland will be favored going into this game but we may have some problems against Houston.
#1 Houston we could have a problem - If Harden has figured out how to be the man or has gotten comfortable in this new offense and the new team, this will be a tough team to beat and much more difficult for the Blazers to win.
Key Match up Jeremy Lin v Damian Lillard
This will be the first time this season that Lillard is seeing a regular season oppont for the second time. This match up will be all about adjustments, the adjustments Lin will make on Lillard and the one Lillard will make on Lin. Harden should be more comfortable in the lineup then the first meeting between these two teams so I see this as a big match up that could decided the game.
Prediction - I think the Blazers win there 2nd in a row and sting together there second winning streak of the season.
Blazers Record 5 - 4-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 10 Sunday November 18th vs. The Chicago Bulls The scheduling powers that be at the NBA have done the Blazers a favor here giving us an early match up against the Bull who will be with out injured star play Derrick Rose. With Rose out The Blazers chances of winning this game increase completely. The Blazers might even be favored here against the Rose less Bulls but there is definitely still some advantages that the Bulls have over the Blazers.
1# Advantage - Depth and Defense, The Bulls have a stronger top to bottom roster then the Blazers, and that could definitely come into play. This is not the same bulls team as last year, but with out Rose they were still respectable and there coach will have them playing strong D regardless of who is on the court.
2# Advantage - Ewing Theory, If you unfamiliar with the Ewing theory it is basically when a team performs better with out its star player then they did with the star player. I don't think that will be the case for these Bulls but its possible they use some of that everyone is counting us out mojo to win lots of games minus there Point Guard.
Key Match upCarlos Boozer vs. Lamarcus Aldridge This match up favors LA, he is better on both ends of the court in my opinion then Boozer, but he needs to really win this match up to cement a Blazers win. Boozer is going to be the guy for this Bulls team with Rose out so if you can hold him down you can probably beat these Bulls.
Prediction - Blazers win making it three in a row for the good guys.
Blazer Record 6-4 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 11 Wednesday November 21st @ Phoenix
The Suns are a team in major transition they traded Nash to the L@kers and they picked up a number of veterans that other teams have discarded. This Phoenix team is dangerous still as they have capable players at every spot in there starting line up. I don't know whether or not Portland would be favored in this match up or not but it is on the Road and the Suns do have things in there favor against the Blazers
#1 Thing in the Suns Favor - Luis Scola this guy gives LA fits and he has often times struggled against him back when Scola was a Rocket. As I think all Blazer fan are aware of by this point in time if Lamarcus struggles then the Blazers are going to be hard press to score enough points to win games so it is essential that Lamarcus be able to get over his Scola problems and play like the All-star we are accustom to. #2 Home Cooking - I expect the Blazers to struggle on the road except for against the worst teams in the league, and I don't think Phoenix qualifies so I expect the Blazers to have difficulty in Phoenix.
Key Match upDamian Lillard vs. Goran Dragic If Lamarcus struggles against Scola like he has in the past then a heavy burden will be placed on Mr. Lillard to win his match up with Goran Dragic. Dragic is a good point Guard and if Lillard can play him even, would be an accomplishment for the Rookie Guard, If he can out play him it could lead to a road victory for the good guys
Prediction - I think the Blazers will drop this game on the Road to the Suns, but hopefully it will be close. Blazers Record 6 - 5-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Game 12 November 23 vs. Minnesota Timber wolves
These teams are shaping up to have quite the rivalry between there star power forwards fighting for All-Star births and Minnesota's penchant for suiting up players with Portland ties these game might be among the most interesting of the year. Schedulers do us a favor here getting Minnesota before they are fully healthy we know fur sure that Rickey Rubio is out for this game, and I believe Kevin Love will be out as well. Who dose that leave to carry the load for the Wolves? none other then one of Portland's favorite sons Brandon Roy. I believe the Blazers will win this games hands down but there are a few mitigating factors to be concerned with. #1 Mitigating factor. Roy returning to his old stomping grounds, how will Roy look in his return Star? Scrub? or somewhere in between. He is sure to get the loudest cheers of any visitor to the Rose Garden this year and that could inspire him to have a great game against his old team. #2 Mitigating factor. I will be live and in person for this game, unfortunately I have been present for far more Blazer losses then wins and there is a distinct possibility that I could be a Jinx for the team.Key Match up Wesley Matthews vs. Brandon Roy If not mistaken Roy is going to have to be the leader of this team while Love and Rubio are injured, can Roy lead a team ? not if he is playing like the last time he was wearing Blazer uniform. If Wes can keep Roy from turning back the clock and playing like the good old days then I think Portland will win this game, but if Roy has any magic saved up for his return to the Rose Garden the Blazers could be in for a long night.
Prediction - I cheer loudly for Roy as does the rest of the Rose Garden, but the Blazers still pick up the W.
Blazders record 7 - 5-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So through 12 games I have the Blazers sporting a winning record. Are my glasses more rose colored then yours, am I insane or am I not optimistic enough. All right that's the end of this chunk of the season. I really hope that people read it and like it let me know. I am going to try and keep improving my writing each time.

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