Game Time: 5:00 p.m. TV: CSNNW
Believe it or not, even after all the chaos of Trade Deadline Day, the Portland Trail Blazers still have to play a game tonight.
No doubt you're familiar with the "new coach rule", that NBA teams always win the first game after a mid-season coaching change. New York invoked it Wednesday night, butchering the Blazers and leading to the dismissal of Portland's coach Nate McMillan. Now it's Portland's turn under interim coach Kaleb Canales to...awwww forget it. The Blazers are going to get butchered tonight.
These are the Chicago Bulls. This is what a real team looks like...a really good team. They're one of three franchises with a super-legit chance to win it all this year. Their defense is amazing. They're 2nd in the league in defensive efficiency, 6th in shooting percentage allowed, 8th in three-point percentage allowed, 10th in points in the paint allowed, 5th in opponent free throws attempted. They don't force many turnovers, they're only average in fast-break points allowed and defensive rebounding percentage. Nowhere in there is the word "bad" or "lacking". Their awful is average for everyone else.
OK, so they're defensive specialists, right? They score, like, 85 points per game and grind you into ugly? Bzzzzt! Think again, Skippy. They're 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency, 6th in points in the paint, 10th in fast-break points, 5th in shooting percentage, 5th in three-point percentage, 8th in turnovers per possession. Oh, and when they miss they're 1st in the league by a mile in offensive rebounding percentage.
Now let's consider the Blazers. They weren't doing all that well anyway. 27 hours before game time they got a new coach. Just hours before that they traded away their starting center and small forward--both veterans--for 2 draft picks, 2 guys who won't ever play for the team, and 2 guys named Thabeet and Flynn who won't make it to this game anyway. Plus two of their main guards--Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton--know the only reason they're here is because nobody around the league wanted them in trade. Though Portland tried their hardest to dump them, the Blazers got stuck with them like a hot potato. (Read more about that scenario here.) Four players out of an eight-man rotation are either gone or possibly coming back sulking. Woot.
You know how sometimes you hear there's going to be a fight after school and you go because the fight is between Razor Hulkmeier, the genetic mutant freak who got held back a year and now towers over everyone, and Larry the bug kid from science class who accidentally bumped Razor while de-fogging his glasses in the locker room? That's exactly what this is going to be like.
The Blazers better hope some coaching voodoo thing happens. Plus they better hope LaMarcus Aldridge remembers yet again that the Bulls traded him away on draft night. Plus they better hope that Derrick Rose, who didn't play on Wednesday night against the Heat (in a game which Chicago won anyway), finds more reasons to sit out. And even then this isn't a fair contest.
Gather 'round at 5:00 out by the side courtyard. Larry is about to get his bug face smashed in. It's not his fault, poor kid. But it should be something to see, at least for the morbidly curious among us.
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