The Portland Trail Blazers started out a home-heavy four weeks with a loss to the Chicago Bulls, 104-96. It was a reasonably spirted effort, but 18.2 percent shooting from deep isn’t usually a recipe for success. Only one Blazer shot better than 29 percent from three, namely Matisse Thybulle, and he didn’t exactly strike fear in anyone’s heart by going 1 for 3 for 33.3 percent. It’s on balance somewhat impressive that the Blazers stayed as close on the scoreboard as they did given that stormtrooper-level accuracy.
The Philadelphia 76ers blow into town with an injury list considerably larger than the Blazers. The 76ers could make a pretty formidable team with the talent that didn’t play against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Call me cynical, but I suspect though that we’ll see a hefty number of those who couldn’t play for the Nuggets game available when they play the Blazers. In spite of depleted forces the 76ers put up a good effort against Jokic and the gang, eventually falling 111-105.
Portland Trail Blazers (13-33) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (29-15) - Monday, Jan. 29 - 7:00 p.m. Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out), Moses Brown (out), Shaedon Sharpe (out)
76ers injuries: De’Anthony Melton (out), Robert Covington (out), Mo Bamba (out), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (questionable), Joel Embiid (questionable), Tobias Harris (questionable), Tyrese Maxey (questionable)
76ers SBN affiliate: Liberty Ballers
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
Who is the best band from Philly?
Hal & Oates?
Boyz II Men?
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince?
G. Love & Special Sauce?
Do you think Embid will duck Ayton like he ducks Jokic in Denver?
Thanks for the questions! Moving right along...
What To Watch For
- Living on the free-throw line. Bad news for opponents: the 76ers get to the free-throw line a lot. Worse news: they make their free-throws. Philadelphia is first in the NBA in free throw attempts per game at 27.6, nearly six more attempts per game than the Blazers at 21.7. The 76ers are second in the NBA at 83.4 percent in free-throw shooting percentage, nearly five percent higher than the Blazers who are at 78.6 percent. If both teams were to play to their averages the 76ers would get a nearly six point advantage from the foul line. The Blazers can’t be spotting any team six points, so they will have to buck some trends here if they want to be competitive.
- They take. And they don’t give. The 76ers are first in the NBA in steals. They are also best in the league at avoiding turnovers. That’s a winning combination. The Blazers are 27th in turnovers, but they are sixth in steals. A few (or more than a few) steals would help Portland immensely, but they’ll gave to hold on to the ball to stay in the game.
What Others Are Saying
Paul Hudrick of Liberty Ballers writes about what Philadelphia might look to do (or not do) at the trade deadline.
We’ve seen credible reporters link them to names like the Bulls’ Zach LaVine and the Hawks’ Dejounte Murray. We know that Daryl Morey has said he’d like to add depth at guard and another big. We also know that the Sixers are pretty damn good as currently constructed with Joel Embiid having yet another MVP-caliber season and Tyrese Maxey looking like an All-Star lock.
So, as the Feb. 8 trade deadline draws closer, what will the Sixers do?
Should the 76ers look at Kyle Lowry? If he’s bought out Nicolas Kyle Pring of The Sixers Sense says they should.
Charlotte did not instantly drop the hammer on Lowry under the belief that they can eventually find a taker for his services, but realistically speaking, they will hard-pressed to find a team with the financial legroom to absorb his contract and the actual need for his declining skills. As a result, it’s almost a safe bet at this point that the veteran will eventually be bought out.
Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer pointed out that the 76ers are the most well-positioned team to pursue the six-time All-Star. Philly is one of the few teams in contention who are below the first luxury tax apron which, according to new CBA provisions, is a non-negotiable when trying to pluck from the buyout market.
Sam Amick, Mike Vorkunov and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine yet another game in Denver that Joel Embiid missed. (subscription required)
On the other hand — and this is the part the NBA will likely take issue with — he wasn’t listed on the Sixers’ injury report heading into the game, and the organization could be subject to league discipline as a result. At minimum, it’s fair to acknowledge this was like a heavyweight boxing match where one fighter doesn’t show up. There was a shock factor because of the timing of it all, with the news breaking mere minutes before tip-off began. And considering Embiid and Jokić are both on the short-list of MVP candidates this season, there are likely ramifications on that front as well.