Sixers at Trail Blazers Preview: Ain't No Rest For The Wicked

Michael Levin made me choose this picture. - Jonathan Daniel

Coming off a tough loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Sixers will be seeking a win tonight as this difficult road trip continues.

Oh, there ain't no rest for the Sixers,
Andrew Bynum's knees don't grow on trees,
I got Kwame to play,
I got long 2s to take,
There ain't nothing in this world for free. (Except free throws, which we don't like.)
Oh no I can't slow down (Maalik Wayns)
I can't hold back (Swaggy P)
Though you know, I wish, I could,
Oh no there ain't no rest for the Sixers,
Until this road trip ends for good.

--- Actual Doug Collins quote*

*(Not an actual Doug Collins quote)

Or, at least that's how I think the song goes.

Anyway...

Before we get into the actual preview, let's take a moment to recap the events of this Sixers road trip so far:

Game 1 - @ Brooklyn Nets (L) - Close loss in a game that they easily could have taken for themselves.
Game 2 - @ Memphis Grizzlies (W) - Surprising win over a very good Grizzlies team (minus Rudy Gay) who is also very good at home.
Game 3 - @ Golden State Warriors (L) - Sixers got off to a decent start but then the Warriors got ahead and the Sixers couldn't dig themselves out of the deficit despite a decent effort to do so.

And that brings us to tonight: the second game of a back to back, this time at Portland.

The Blazers are also coming off the first game off a back to back in which they lost to the re-surging Los Angeles Lakers. Portland got blown out on the road and the game was practically already over by the end of the third. Despite their mediocre .500 record (14-14), though, the Blazers are a lot better at home (10-4) then they are away (4-10). That might have to do something with the Blazers having the 6th best attendance ratings in the league.

Blazers Strengths:

Scoring. While the Blazers aren't some sort of offensive juggernaut, they're ranked 12th in ORtg and have some players who can put up points. Their leading scorer is starting PF LaMarcus Aldridge (21.1 PPG) followed by potential Rookie of the Year and starting PG Damian Lillard (18.6), SF Nicolas Batum (16) and SG Wes Matthews (15). Matthews missed last night's game with a hip injury, and as of this post it's unclear whether he'll miss tonight's game. The Blazers have one the lowest assist rates in the league, so they're all selfish jerks who never pass the ball able to create shots for themselves. They also take care of the ball decently enough with the league's 10th best turnover rate. The Sixers, if you don't know by now, love to both take advantage of turnovers and make sure they don't turn it over either. If the Sixers aren't creating turnovers, they could struggle.

Blazers Weakness:

Other than their low assist rate, the Blazers aren't exceptionally terrible in other areas. In fact, they're quite mediocre, which is what their record indicates. One area of weakness that does stand out is their defense which ranks 23d in DRtg. That's good new for the offensively challenged Sixers. Hopefully it means they can take less long 2s and attack the rim more often (oh, who am I kidding?).

Quick hits:

  • Like I mentioned earlier, Wes Matthews' status for tonight's game is unclear as of now (hip injury).
  • Jason Richardson was available for the Warriors game (back injury) but he didn't play and was a game time decision.
  • I'd expect to see a larger rotation since this is the second game of a back to back. Would be nice to get some production from the bench. Can you hook us up, Swag?
  • Hopefully Kwame Brown can play "actually not horrible" like he did against the Warriors if he's called upon tonight.
  • Greg Oden Max Contract. (This one was for Michael Levin.)
  • I'm really upset at the Blazers. They reportedly had interest in Spencer Hawes during the off season but they didn't end up signing him. Wise move for you, Blazers, but I hate you for it.
  • Fun fact: Nic Batum recently had the most recent 5x5 since 2006.
  • The Sixers are 0-3 in games directly prior to games that I cover here at LB. The Sixers are 2-0 in the actual games I have covered so far here at LB.
  • Philadelphia 76ers Tickets
  • 76ers vs Trail Blazers coverage
  • Portland perspective - Blazer's Edge

Prediction:

The Blazers are too good at home and beat out the Sixers in a close one: 95-91. Kwame doesn't spontaneously combust (yet).

Misc:

Another late game. Tip is at 10. GameThread will be up at 9:30 - don't forget to join us! You can catch the game on TCN-PHI. You can listen live on the radio on 97.5 The Fanatic.

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