Portland Trail Blazers (7-6) at New Orleans Pelicans (2-10)
Nov. 18, 2016, 5:00 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out), Al-Farouq Aminu (out)
Pelicans injuries: Anthony Davis (questionable), Jrue Holiday (probable), Alexis Ajinca (probable), Tyreke Evans (out), Quincy Pondexter (out)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes
The Trail Blazers will visit the Smoothie King Center tonight to face the cellar-dwelling Pelicans. Portland will look to recover from its poor outing in Houston yesterday evening, while the Pelicans will look to build momentum after starting the season on an eight-game losing streak.
The Blazers are in serious danger of finding themselves in a hole to start their five-game road trip. Poor starts have doomed them in two of the last three outings, and it nearly resulted in a loss against the Nuggets on Sunday. New Orleans’ record suggests an easy win, but this matchup has “trap” written all over it. The Trail Blazers haven’t been victorious in back-to-back situations this season, and the Pelicans have been victorious in two of their last four outings.
Working in the Trail Blazers’ favor are the injury issues that have plagued the Pelicans. Anthony Davis has the ability to completely dominate a game, but his status is in question after he was sidelined on Wednesday with a quad injury. If Davis is held out, it would help minimize Portland’s weaknesses in the paint.
New Orleans will be receiving some reinforcements though, as it appears that Jrue Holiday is set to make his season debut. The former All-Star has been away from the team over the past few months, so it is unclear how many minutes he will receive tonight.
Even if Davis and Holiday play significant minutes for New Orleans, Portland should be able to outscore a team that struggles to put points on the board. The Pelicans are in the bottom portion of the league in both points per game (100.1) and field goal percentage (42.9). The Trail Blazers have underperformed in the last two games, but a strong scoring night from Damian Lillard and/or CJ McCollum would give them a strong foundation to build on.
Portland has a clear advantage in the backcourt, which means they will once again rely on Lillard’s stellar play. The Pelicans will be trying to get Holiday up to speed and they’ve recently relieved Buddy Hield of his starting duties. Those two factors should bode well for Portland’s ability to find points on the perimeter.
Allen Crabbe struggled to get his offense going after joining the starting rotation in Houston, so it is a strong possibility that Portland coach Terry Stotts isn’t done tinkering with the lineup. When healthy, the Pelicans play a more traditional frontcourt pairing, so the Trail Blazers would likely have to counter the size discrepancy accordingly. If Stotts goes big, Noah Vonleh will likely get the nod given Meyers Leonard’s recent struggles.
The last two losses for the Trail Blazers are somewhat excusable given that they were at the hands of likely playoff teams, but dropping a third consecutive game to the last-place team in the Western Conference would raise serious concerns. Despite some of the uninspiring performances this season, Lillard-led teams ooze with pride. While this game does look like a trap from the outside, a strong bounce-back performance should be equally expected.
Blazer’s Edge Night 2017
Want to assist us in sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring? Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!