Portland Trail Blazers (20-14) vs. Sacramento Kings (14-21)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Sacramento Kings at home in the Moda Center to finish out the first half of the season. With the All-Star break looming at the end of the week, the Trail Blazers are ready for some time off. Despite the incredible win against the Golden State Warriors last night, Portland is clearly tired.
Thursday, March 4 - 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), CJ McCollum (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Harry Giles (out) Kings injuries: Chimeze Metu (out), Robert Woodard (out), Tyrese Haliburton (out), Buddy Hield, (day to day), Hassan Whiteside (out), Jabari Parker (out)
SBN Affiliate: Sac Town Royalty
What To Watch For
- Damian Lillard. Damian. Lamonte. Ollie. Lillard. After an interview was released detailing Dame’s personal struggles and giving an explanation as to why he may not seem like himself lately, Portland’s MVP came out and made some big moves at the end of the close game with Golden State last night. Ironically, Dame actually struggled to hit much throughout the game, but when it mattered, he made it happen. I think Dame can fall in the “what to watch for” category in every single preview at this point, because we cannot take our eyes off that man for a minute or we will miss something.
- Defense. Or lack of, actually. Portland has been known to struggle defensively (although we have seen them play some good defense lately), but Sacramento struggles even more. Two teams that struggle on defense should make for quite the game. Any bets on how high the score will be?
- Exhaustion. It’s the end of the first half of the season. There has been a lot of traveling, a lot of new protocol, a lot of change, a lot of basketball, and for Portland — a lot of injuries. The Blazers need the All-Star break. It’s been a long season and it’s only halfway over. The injured starters, the taxing schedule, and all of the protocols have taken a toll on the team, and while they’ve managed to maintain a good record and a solid 5th seed spot in the Western Conference, they're tired and it shows. This being the last game before the break for both teams could play out in different ways, but it’s possible we will see signs of the players being tired. That exhaustion can be a death sentence if the other team finds a way to take advantage.
What Others Are Saying
The Kings could be a tough opponent— or not. There’s really no telling. Jason Jones of the Athletic talks about their ups and downs:
The team alternates between exceeding expectations (a 3-1 start, later winning seven of eight in February) and being the same old Kings (losing nine of 11 and also 10 of 11 during separate stretches of the season).
Jas Kang of Sactown Royalty recounts the last meeting the two teams had:
Sacramento played Portland a lot tougher just four nights later in a 132-126 loss, but as has been the case in most defeats for the Kings this season, the defense was a major issue. Luke Walton’s squad had no answer for the Blazers’ backcourt.
As Walton alluded to earlier in the week, the Kings are allowing too much penetration from the outside. Although McCollum will sit this one out, they can’t afford to let Lillard have his way on the perimeter.
Terry Stotts talked to the press after last night's game and detailed how important Damian Lillard is to the team. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian wrote about it:
“Dame is undeterred,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Obviously he didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, but he made the two plays of the game. He makes the big three and takes the charge. He’s is a super competitor, and never thinks he’s out of the game, and always is willing to put himself on the line to make the play at either end.”