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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

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The Blazers look to sweep the Pelicans back-to-back after taking out a one-point thriller on Tuesday.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (23-16) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (17-23)

The Portland Trail Blazers pulled off a record-breaking one-point comeback win against the Pelicans on Tuesday. It might seem like hyperbole, but every word was necessary in that last sentence. Their next match up: the Pelicans again at the Moda Center. Will New Orleans return stronger after their devastating loss or have the Blazers crushed their respective spirit? Let’s wait and see.

Thursday, March 16 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Harry Giles (questionable)
Pelicans injuries: JJ Redick (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

What To Watch For

  • Starting well. Just a suggestion, but the Blazers might like to see how not letting their opponent get out to gargantuan early lead helps their chances. It might even remove the need for luck and a 18-point turnaround in the last quarter to secure a win. While the win was exhilarating, playing four full quarters might make it easier on the nerves and heart rate of all those associated with the Blazers.
  • CJ McCollum finding his legs. Nobody expected CJ to instantly pick up where he left off before the injury. Understandably, his game fitness and touch won’t be there just yet, but 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes was an okay re-introduction. The only way is up from here.
  • Ingram and Williamson. The Blazers need to focus on stopping the Pelicans starting forwards who together notched up 58 points, 11 boards and 10 assists. Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. will be up against it again tonight but if they can nullify the Pelicans pair, the Blazers should hopefully be on their way to another victory.

What Others Are Saying

While Portland fans celebrated, everyone associated with the Pelicans, including coach Stan Van Gundy, labelled Tuesday’s final quarter meltdown inexcusable, wrote Christin Clark at nola.com.

“For 3½ quarters, the Pelicans played beautiful basketball. They had the Trail Blazers on their heels with the way they were moving to open space and spreading the ball around. Lonzo Ball, who had a career-high 17 assists, was magnificent. The Pelicans’ offense was flowing. Then they reverted back to the stand-around style they played at the beginning of the season.”

“What bothered Van Gundy more than anything, though, was Lillard’s offensive rebound with 3:33 remaining. Williamson, Ingram and Josh Hart were all in the vicinity to grab Rodney Hood’s miss, but somehow Lillard, the shortest player of that quartet, came up with it and kicked it to Gary Trent Jr. for a 3. That cut the lead to four.”

“Inexcusable,” Van Gundy said.”

The Blazers might not be the only franchise looking to secure Aaron Gordon’s talents before next week’s trade deadline, with Oleh Kosel suggesting the Pelican make a play for the Magic big man.

“Gordon has one more year left on his current contract after this season at a very palatable rate of $16.4 million. That’s plenty of time to kick the tires. Shedding Bledsoe’s defensive dead weight for a player who has the capability to guard 3s and 4s really well — finally slotting a necessary good-sized defender between Ingram and Zion — sounds positively delightful. And looking deeper, a dynamic small-ball lineup of Ball-Ingram-Hart-Gordon-Zion could be hell on earth for opponents in certain situations.”

“Since reality is what truly matters and players have to be at least partially attainable on the trade market, though, it’s hard to peg more appropriate fits than Aaron Gordon. He’s not the perfect candidate, but the roster upgrade and cost very much feel worth the investment.”

The New York Knicks might be a destination for Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“While Houston’s combo guard Victor Oladipo is very available, Pelicans pass-first point guard Lonzo Ball is higher on Leon Rose’s list.”

“However, the Pelicans have not tipped their hand on whether they’re ready to move their ever-improving playmaker, even though he is a restricted free agent this summer as his rookie contract expires.”

“The Pelicans passed on giving Ball a rookie contract extension at the December deadline. Ball will be seeking big bucks this summer – and Pelicans ownership historically is afraid of luxury-tax implications.”