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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

Can the Blazers get another win in the Big Easy?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (13-18) vs New Orleans Pelicans (10-21)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans for their second game of a short two game road trip. The Blazers are coming off of two straight wins following a seven game losing streak. The Pelicans have won three of their last four and are trying to turn around their season after a horrendous start.

Tuesday, December 21 - 5:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: CJ McCollum (out), Cody Zeller (out), Nassir Little (out), Damian Lillard (questionable), Jusuf Nurkic (questionable)
Pelicans injuries: Zion Williamson (out), Kira Lewis Jr. (out), Daulton Hommes (out), Didi Louzada (out), Tomas Satoransky (day to day)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

What To Watch For

  • Damian Lillard. Lillard struggled to start this year, that can not be overstated. However, that has seemed to change over the last few games. Lillard has scored more than thirty in three of his last four games, and his last two have been much more efficient than the rest of the season. If he plays despite a hamstring issue, his could be the beginning of seeing the Lillard that we have seen for the last few years.
  • Battle of the big men. This matchup feature two of the top eleven rebounders this season in Jusuf Nurkic and Jonas Valanciunas. The battle on the boards between these two seven footers will be extremely important to the outcome of this contest. Valanciunas has been on a tear recently, and how well Nurkic is able to defend him could decide the game.
  • Three point shooting. The Blazers make the seventh most threes per game as opposed to the twenty-seventh ranked rate that the Pelicans make threes. The Blazers defense allows a lot of threes, but that is not traditionally the Pelicans’ game. The Blazers will have to limit threes by the Pelicans and make the threes they take to have a good chance.

What Others Are Saying

David Grubb of The Bird Writes talks about Devonte Graham’s season high night against the Milwuakee Bucks.

Coming off his game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Graham continued his December resurgence.

After struggling through the month of November, when he made only 2.4 threes per game on 33.3 percent shooting, Graham is shooting almost 42 percent from beyond the arc this month and making nearly four triples each night.

Aaron Kellerstrass of Pelican Debrief talked about the struggles of the Pelicans’ bench this season.

But the Pelicans aren’t at full strength and are unlikely to be this season, so they are going to need to upgrade their bench.

The Pelicans’ starting five with Josh Hart and Herb Jones has a net rating of +7.2 this season, so they have not been the problem.

The bench is 25th in the NBA in scoring, can’t defend and has two guys in Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky who should not be NBA rotation players.