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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

Welcome back, CJ!

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (27-48) vs New Orleans Pelicans (32-43)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans at the Moda Center for the fifth game of their current five game home stand. The Blazers enter this contest losers of four straight with their most recent loss coming Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New Orleans Pelicans are right off of a win against the Los Angeles Lakers and currently sits ninth in the Western Conference.

Wednesday, March 30- 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Joe Ingles (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Justise Winslow (out), Josh Hart (out), Trendon Watford (out), Greg Brown III (probable), Didi Louzada (probable)
Pelicans injuries: Zion Williamson (out), Kira Lewis Jr. (out), Larry Nance Jr. (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

What To Watch For

CJ McCollum’s return. CJ McCollum is back in Portland. The guard out of Lehigh that was an integral part of the Blazers’ roster for the last nine years makes his return to the Moda Center. Although he will be donning a Pelicans jersey, there is still sure to be a warm welcome for the Portland legend. Since his trade to the Pelicans, McCollum has averaged 25.9 points and 6.5 assists to help the Pelicans become the ninth seed with hopes at a playoff berth this season.

Blazers playing to win? Its no secret that the Blazers are favoring draft odds over wins for the rest of this season, but this game should be a notable outlier. With the Pelicans’ first round pick owed to the Blazers should it fall in the 5-14 range, the Blazers are incredibly incentivized to win this game against the Pelicans. The Pelicans sit ninth in the Western Conference at the moment but are only a game up on the Spurs who sit eleventh. All three of the Pelicans, Spurs, and Lakers are trying to make the play-in. If the Blazers beat the Pelicans it just makes it that much harder for them, and that much more likely that the Blazers end up with that extra first rounder.

Which version of the Blazers shows up? The Blazers averaged just 100 points per game over the first three games of their homestand and shot an abysmal 25.5% from three in those games. However, in their last game against the Thunder, the Blazers scored 131 points and made 20 of their 50 attempts from three. Which version of the Blazers offense shows up could swing the game from another blowout to a possible upset over the Pelicans.

What Others Are Saying

Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes talks about the Pelicans comeback win over the Lakers and what that means for the postseason.

The Pelicans stormed back from a huge deficit in the most impressive fashion, flipping a 23-point hole into a 116-108 victory. In handing James his largest blown lead in a Los Angeles uniform, the Pelicans outscored the Lakers by a 67-39 margin in the second half of a game that they really needed to win.

With this victory, the Pelicans take the season series, clinching a tiebreaker over the Lakers. This could prove pivotal as L.A. trails New Orleans by a mere half game in the Western Conference standings.

Pelican Debrief’s Aaron Kellerstrass mentions Jose Alverado’s improvements and the impact he has had on the rest of the roster.

Not only is Alvarado producing, he is a hard worker who is likely to get better over the course of his contract. He’s shown more willingness to shoot the 3-point shot of late and is already very good at running the offense with the second unit.

But he also has a huge impact on the Pelicans just with his personality and hard work. It is clear that Alvrado’s teammates love him and that he is a big part of the chemistry we are watching this young team build with coach Willie Green.