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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

The road trip continues.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (27-52) vs New Orleans Pelicans (35-44)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Arena for the fourth game of a five game road trip. The Blazers come into this contest losers of eight straight games in a free fall towards the top of the lottery odds. The Pelicans return to New Orleans after a four game road trip that saw them go 3-1 and secure a spot in the play-in game.

Thursday, April 7- 5:00 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), Brandon Williams (day-to-day)
Pelicans injuries: Zion Williamson (out), Kira Lewis (out)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

What To Watch For

Lottery odds. The Blazers are all but locked into the sixth-best lottery odds. However, that doesn’t mean they can sit back and accidentally win a game or two heading forward. They could allow the Sacramento Kings to slip below them in the standings if they let off the reins of the tank. With all three of their final opponents locked into either the top six seeds or the play-in, the Blazers could face teams with many starters resting and have to be careful not to lose the spot they fought so hard for.

Greg Brown’s goggles. Since missing a game for a corneal abrasion, and coming back with a new look, Greg Brown III has been on fire from deep. Over his last four games he has shot 10/14 from three. This has brought his percentage up from 18.9% before the goggles to now 33.3% for the season. This recent shooting has also come with some big scoring nights, including a career high 17 in his last game. Brown’s improvement is something to remember in a season Blazers fans will want to forget.

Keon Johnson. The mid-season acquisition from the Los Angeles Clippers has averaged 10 points per game in his 19 outings with the Blazers. In recent weeks he has picked it up quite a bit, with 6 double digit outings in his last 7 games, including a career high 20 points. The last three games have seen him put up 19 points per game, and that number could grow with the increased minutes he has been seeing as a starter.

What Others Are Saying

Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes talks about how the Pelicans have been able to turn their season around and secure a play-in berth.

The Pelicans began the season with only three wins in their first 19 games. After a double-digit loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in New Orleans, the Pelicans had the second-worst record in the league.

Locally, nationally, everyone counted them out, but the team’s resolve never melted away. More importantly, they got better and better.

Since the dreadful start, the Pelicans have compiled a 32-28 record. Over this span, the offense has ranked 13th-best (113.5 ORTG) across the league, and the defense, 11th (111.6 DRTG). But it hasn’t always been a smooth ride — adversity still continued to rear its head every so often.

ClutchPoints’ Jason Patt mentions another positive from the Pelicans’ season, still securing a lottery pick despite owing theirs to the Blazers.

Pelicans fans hold a bit of a grudge over how the Anthony Davis situation played out, but they did get a nice trade haul in that deal. Part of that trade package for New Orleans is the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick, which is protected 11-30. With the Lakers now sitting at a disastrous 31-48 on the season, that pick is slated to convey to the Pelicans at No. 8.

It’s almost a 100% certainty that New Orleans will be getting that pick from Los Angeles this season. There’s still a long-shot scenario in which it doesn’t convey and instead goes to the Memphis Grizzlies, but it would require multiple teams jumping up over the Pelicans in the lottery.