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NBA Playoffs: Trail Blazers vs. Pelicans Game 4 Preview

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Portland’s season could end on a very sour note in New Orleans.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans(Series: 3-0, Pelicans)

Saturday, April 21st - 2:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Maurice Harkless (questionable), Evan Turner (questionable)
Pelicans injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (out), Alexis Ajinca (out),
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

The Portland Trail Blazers head into Game 4 of their series with the New Orleans Pelicans down 3-0, having been outmatched in nearly every conceivable way. Things aren’t looking good, obviously.

After losing two fairly close games at home, the Blazers needed to get things into gear quickly in New Orleans. Instead, the team was blown out in a way that the game’s 19-point margin of victory doesn’t even begin to describe. The Blazers continued to fail to generate anything on the offensive end. But this time their defense, a bright spot all season long, failed to show up as well. Maybe it was tired legs, maybe it was a group that knows that their days are numbered. But if the Blazers want to send this series back to Portland next week, they need to figure things out by Saturday afternoon.

Otherwise there is no next game.

What to watch for

Is there any heart in this team? The Blazers looked in Game 3 like they’d already given up. This game comes down to having enough pride to avoid the sweep. If the Blazers go down double digits early, there’s a very real chance of a beatdown at the hands of the Pelicans. If Portland can keep it close, one hopes they’ll at least show enough fortitude to go down swinging.

Who’s going to play small forward? Evan Turner and Moe Harkless are both questionable for Game 4. Should both players miss the game, coach Stotts will have a decision to make regarding his lineup. He could opt to slide Al-Farouq Aminu to small forward and start Zach Collins or Ed Davis. Alternately, he could look to Shabazz Napier and the three-guard lineup that saw success so many months ago.

What they’re saying

ESPN’s Mike Triplett wrote about how Damian Lillard needs to match the Pelicans’ aggressiveness:

Lillard said he didn’t notice the way Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday pointed toward fallen Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic on Thursday night after Anthony Davis dunked on Nurkic.

”I didn’t see it. But, I mean, when things are going well for you, you do stuff like that,” Lillard said. “That’s, I guess, something you do when you’re just feeling really confident, you’re feeling yourself a little bit. It’s not like we’ve done anything about it.”

Lillard quickly added, however, “But as much as they’ve played well and we haven’t, three games to zero, that doesn’t mean that it’s over with. That don’t mean that we walk around here defeated. We just gotta get one. The series can change after one game, especially going back home.”

The New Orleans Advocate staff brought up a fact that Blazer fans are painfully aware of:

When the New Orleans Pelicans throttled the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 on Thursday, they handed their opponents what has historically been a death sentence in the NBA playoffs.

No team has successfully recovered from being down 0-3 in a best-of-seven playoff series in the NBA playoffs. Teams holding such a lead are 127-0 in series results.

In fact, it’s been 25 years since a team has even forced a Game 7 in such a scenario. That distinction goes to the Denver Nuggets in 1994, who forced the Utah Jazz to a deciding game in the Western Conference semifinals before losing on the road.