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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

The Blazers look to secure another win on a travel back-to-back.

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (17-10) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (12-15)

The Portland Trail Blazers face the New Orleans Pelicans as they look to wrap up their road trip with a win. It’s been freezing cold outside, but the Blazers have been hot on the court, winning both of their games on this road trip so far, giving them a five game winning streak and seven wins out of their last eight games. The Pelicans arrive back in New Orleans after a win over the Memphis Grizzlies that ended a losing streak.

Wednesday, February 17- 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, League Pass, or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), CJ McCollum (out), Harry Giles (out) Pelicans injuries:
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

What To Watch For

  • Zion. Because he’s Zion. He may be the most watched young player in the NBA. If the Pelican’s are going to win, he’s going to have to be on. Lately, he’s been on—averaging 24.4 points so far this season.
  • Lonzo Ball as a possible trade target. We are in that time of the season where trade talks are happening. There are a lot swirling around one particular Pelican, and that’s Lonzo Ball. There are also lots of talks amongst Trail Blazers fans that we should target a back up point guard. Maybe Ball fits that bill.
  • Trail Blazers defense. At the beginning of the season, Portland’s defense was probably the thing that was most criticized, and with good reason. It was one of the worst in the league last year and didn't see much improvement going into this season. But in the last several games, the Blazers have kicked it up a notch and it seems to be getting better and better.

What Others Are Saying

The Pelicans 3 point game seems to make or break them, which should be interesting in Portland. Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes says this:

When the Pelicans finish with a higher three-point field goal percentage than opponents, they win. They’re 10-2 this season in such games. Also interesting to note, when opponents have tallied 15 or more made threes, the Pelicans have a 2-12 record on the season. Considering the fact that New Orleans is giving up the most three-point attempts (41.6) in the league, it’s not difficult to surmise they’re playing with more fire than any other team any given night.

The Blazers are missing CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, and trying to stay afloat until they can come back. Brad Botkin of CBS Sports talked about just how much Portland is missing the injured players:

McCollum’s absence has been particularly felt. He was having a career year, and with him alongside Lillard, the Blazers were a terror down the stretch of games with two of the best self-creating closers in the world in the same backcourt — No. 5 in both fourth-quarter scoring and point differential. With Lillard going it alone, those ranks have fallen to No. 24 and No. 29, respectively.