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Atlanta Hawks vs. Portland Trail Blazers Preview

The Blazers hope to return to their winning ways tonight against the Hawks.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (23-26) vs Atlanta Hawks (25-25)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Atlanta Hawks at the Moda Center for the final game of a long six-game homestand. The Blazers are coming into this game after a loss against the Toronto Raptors. For the Hawks, this is the first contest in a five-game Western Conference road trip. They lost their last game at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Trail Blazers vs. Hawks — Monday, January 30 — 7:00 p.m. PT

How to Watch: NBA TV, Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass

Blazers Injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Greg Brown III (out), Jusuf Nurkic (questionable), Josh Hart (questionable)

Hawks Injuries: Trae Young (questionable)

SBN Affiliate: Peachtree Hoops

What To Watch For

  • Rebounding issues. In the Blazers’ last matchup against the Raptors they felt the absence of their two best rebounders in Josh Hart and Jusuf Nurkic. They were out rebounded 45-27 in the loss. With players like John Collins, Clint Capela, and Onyeka Okongwu, the Hawks are well-equipped to cause the same problems for the Blazers if both Nurkic and Hart are unable to suit up. Drew Eubanks, Jerami Grant, and Trendon Watford will be called upon to pick up the rebounding slack. The Blazers will need more from everyone for rebounding to not be an issue in this contest.
  • The pick-and-roll. One of the best parts about Jusuf Nurkic’s game is his screening ability. Him and Damian Lillard form a two man tandem that is deadly combination, whether the damage comes from a driving or shooting Dame, or a rolling Nurkic. Without Nurkic, Lillard’s life gets a lot harder as there is no one on the Blazers’ roster that can replicate that type of screen. If Nurkic does not play, it could heavily impact the Blazers’ offense and make points that much harder to score. However, if he does play, Lillard could find a lot of success with creating separation from lockdown defender Dejounte Murray.
  • Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant. The second and third options in the Blazers offense both had a good game in their last outing. For Grant, it marked his highest scoring output since Jan. 4. For Simons, it was an efficient but low scoring game where he scored just 14 points, but shot 58 percent from the field. The Blazers will need both of them to have great games, especially if both Hart and Nurkic do not end up playing. The trio of Simons, Lillard, and Grant combined for 70 points in their last game, and might need a bigger output to make up for the missing points in the starting lineup.

What Others Are Saying

Peachtree Hoops’ Wes Morton talked about the struggles from the Hawks to slow down the hot shooting Clippers in their last game.

Atlanta finished with 15 offensive rebounds compared to just six for Los Angeles and ceded only nine turnovers to the Clippers’ 14. This resulted in 15 more field goal attempts for Atlanta over their opponent with virtually the same free throws taken between the two sides. But the Clippers overcame this large attempt gap with a greater willingness to take threes and capable shooting from range. The Clippers drilled 19-of-39 (49%) three-pointers compared to the Hawks’ 7-of-27 (26%) mark from there.

The Hawks seemingly did everything they could do to narrow the gap, especially in the second half. They pushed in transition off misses and turnovers (a 24-7 fastbreak point margin), crashed the glass (a 17-11 second chance margin), and got into the paint (a sky high 62-32 margin) all in Atlanta’s favor. But when the opponent was scorching hot on all jump shots, it was all for naught.

Nick Andre of All Hawks talked about Dejounte Murray’s defensive prowess and how it benefits the Hawks.

One of Murray’s strong suits has been his perimeter defense. The reason he is so great on that end is his effort. His instincts and attention to detail have always been crucial when defending elite scorers.

In addition, Murray holds his own on the defensive end and uses his body and athleticism to make the offensive player uncomfortable. This season, Murray is ranked in the top ten in steals with 1.7, and it’s played a big role in Atlanta’s success.