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Game 21 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns

A battle of evil vs. good.
A battle of evil vs. good.

Some network technical issues have apparently filtered their way down to our site, as my account is as screwed up as Brandon Roy's knees right now.  So I'm submitting this preview through Ben.  Thanks to him for posting it!

Game Time:  7:00 p.m. Pacific  TV:  CSNNW

Let's cut to the chase.  The 11-9 Phoenix Suns are going to be more trouble for Portland tonight than their record would indicate.  Their problems are obvious:  they don't rebound and they allow 110 points per game.  But the Blazers are having trouble rebounding lately as well and Portland might not score 110 if you spotted them 20 at the opening tip.  The Suns also score 110 per game and the Blazers haven't been in the mood to stop anybody lately either, ranking poorly in multiple defensive categories.  But that's not the trouble.

The Suns are stocked with familiar names:  Jason Richardson (21 ppg), Steve Nash (18 and 10), Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu.  Heck, even Hakim Warrick is shooting 55.5% and drawing 6 free throws per game.  It's not so much the overwhelming talent as the offense letting each player play to their strengths.  Portland's talent is the equal of Phoenix but the Blazers look injured, sporadic, and sometimes downright constipated.  Guys like Hill and Richardson often own Portland for this very reason.  But that's not the trouble.

The trouble, as reported earlier, is that Andre Miller won't be playing, his 600-odd game playing streak interrupted by a league suspension for a shove of Blake Griffin in Portland's last game.  Never mind that Steve Nash is coming off a perfect shooting game in which he tallied 20 points and 17 assists.  That came against the Wizards and anything offensive against the Wizards should come with an asterisk.  Never mind that Nash is probably salivating against the chance to go against Patty Mills.  Mills is pretty active, if not effective, defensively and the Blazers will probably throw different defenders against Nash anyway.  Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, even Brandon Roy might get a shot.  It's not going to be Mills vs. Nash for 48 minutes.  No...the Blazers are in huge trouble because every time anybody outside of Andre Miller has led the offense this year Portland has played liked a headless chicken without a head.  Yeah, I know I did that.  The description wouldn't have been complete otherwise.  They've gotten away with it--barely--for short stretches.  I shudder to think what a full game of Miller-less offense will look like.

So...homecourt or no homecourt there's a decent chance the Blazers just get slaughtered tonight.  If that doesn't happen it could be a season-turner, the bright side to this story.  In order to win the Blazers are going to have to find a cohesive offense different than they've yet displayed.  Whether that comes at the hands of Mills, Roy, Matthews, or even Armon Johnson it would be exciting to see.  This could be just what Blazer fans have been waiting for...if it happens.

We shall see.

Check out the fun at BrightSideoftheSun.

Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.

--Dave (