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Game 19 Preview: Trail Blazers vs. Wizards

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Game Time:  4:00 p.m. Pacific  TV:  CSNNW

The Washington Wizards have lost 12 of their 17 games on the season and don't have a single victory against a decent team.  The Portland Trail Blazers are 8-10, have lost 5 in a row, and are most definitely not playing like a decent team, especially defensively.  Is anyone really sure the Blazers will walk out with a victory tonight, though this game would once have been penciled in as a sure thing?  I'm not.  But that's what the team will need if they're to avoid their worst road trip in the history of forever.

The Wizards feature seven players scoring in double figures:  explosive point guard John Wall (18 ppg, 9 ast), the horrible Gilbert Arenas (17 ppg, shooting 38%), the springy and unreliable Andre Blatche (16.5 ppg, 8 rpg), score-hound Nick Young (12 ppg), the always-reliable Kirk Hinrich (11 ppg), budding center JaVale McGee (10 ppg, 8.5 rpg), and the even springier and less reliable Al Thornton (10 ppg).  Playing against them is like playing whack-a-mole.  You never know who's going to pop up.  You just have to keep pushing them down until they quit.  Fortunately many of these players either think they're amazing scorers or have to be amazing scorers in order to be effective.  Even more fortunately they're not interested in doing anything else but scoring or its close cousin, offensive rebounding.  How many of these guys play defense?  Or better...how many of these guys don't play defense horribly?  Hinrich is the only credible guy among them at that end of the floor.  The Wizards are one of only two teams with worse defensive field goal percentages allowed than the Blazers.  They're bad at defending the three.  They foul all the time.  They allow more fast break points than anybody but Golden State.  They allow more points in the paint than anybody but New York, Toronto, and Phoenix.   They're 28th in the league in defensive efficiency.  They're bad defensive rebounders.   The only thing they do is force turnovers and that ain't near enough.

In short, a random offense and an absolutely pathetic defense should allow an easy win for the Blazers no matter what else is going on.  But Portland's defense has been poor as well and nearly all of the Wizards' rotation players are capable of 20-point outings.  If Portland comes into this game unfocused again they could get tagged.  But they better not.  At this point that's all there is to say.  If the Blazers lose tonight I expect things to explode inside and outside of the team...a team which seems to find the worst loss of the year at their door every other night.  That's exactly what's knocking today.  Let's hope the Blazers don't answer.

Look in on the proceedings at Bullets Forever.

Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.  Bet on the Blazers to win.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)