What?!? We have to play the Jazz AGAIN??? I actually love these games but I think we've had enough Jazz previews to last a lifetime. When do we get to play the Suns and L*kers?
The keys to this game are simple:
--Don't get outmuscled
--Don't get outhustled
--Pack the lane tight with your defense and...
--Plan on hitting more shots than they do
Near even on rebounds, turnovers, and foul shots probably equates to a win no matter the pace of the game.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the implications of this game.
Since we're starting to dabble in post-season aspirations we should acknowledge a truth that used to be quite familiar to us when we were perennial playoff participants: there are no critical games before the All-Star break. The only long-term implications this game has is securing us a tie-breaker with the Jazz outright. It's a worthy goal, but unlikely to be season-deciding.
Nevertheless if you just isolate the context to just January this game will probably be fairly important to the flow of our month. We eased some of the pressure by winning in Chicago the other night, but with a seven-game road trip against stiff competition on the horizon we need every game we can get at home.
The rest of the month looks like this:
at New Jersey
at New Orleans
Even for the new, improved version of the Blazers that's a tough row to hoe. You'd hope to win at Miami and at least one of the Atlanta contests but none of the rest are guaranteed. They won't all be losses (One would hope!) but it wouldn't surprise you to see us lose any of the remaining games on an individual basis.
So the mission is simple: capture the tie-breaker, take even more pressure off of the road trip, give your fans a chance to cheer.
Hopefully we can pull it off.
P.S. The Jersey Contest form for this game is here.