Heading into Portland with a 7-22 record, the Sixers look to rebound from an ugly loss in Utah and gain some momentum to build upon on the rest of the road trip. The Blazers are winners of 4 in a row, coming off a huge W against the Nuggets. The Sixers haven't looked good for an extended period of time yet this season. Portland has been decimated by injuries, particularly in their front court. The Sixers frontcourt has been riddled with injuries, lack of cohesiveness and inconsistency since day 1.
Due to two hardship exemptions from injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przyzyzyzyzbilla, the Blazers signed D-League standout Anthony Tolliver and are reportedly looking for another frontcourt player to fill his spot. Against the Nuggets, they only played 8 guys. LaMarcus Aldridge got 45 minutes and Juwan Howard got 30 (yes, still breathing). Needless to say, they're a little thin. Add them to the short list of teams that may possibly could be if everything works out one in a million might be interested in the services of Samuel Dalembert. I'd trade him for a box of primordial cell phones if the contracts match up (gotta be a pretty damn big box). But I digress...
Portland is good. They play smart basketball for the most part, combine athleticism (Webster, Outlaw) with youth (Bayless, Batum) and pure basketball skill (Roy, Aldridge), and the recent promotion of Andre Miller to the starting lineup. While he hasn't been used nearly as much as last year, he's shot an ugly 40% from the field, much worse than Lou Williams and Willie Green. I'm still bitter that we couldn't get something for him, but we have our own problems to worry about so I'm gonna let it go. I hope Jrue gets to beat Andre off the dribble because there's no chance he can keep up with him.
Anyway let's try to look for some positives in this game. I don't expect a win, but if we can hang for 4 full quarters, legitimately contend, then I'll be happy. Whether or not we agree with Eddie Jordan's rotations, it seems that he has found some that he's comfortable with, despite the fact that most of them are unsuccessful. Hey -- as long as he's happy, I'm happy. Hm.
We have stolen a couple big games from Portland the past few years, so hopefully that trend continues. A few interesting storylines for this game include the Roy-Iguodala debate (I'd still take Roy at this point, despite my love for 'Dre), our first game against Andre Miller, and the on-court cohesiveness between Elton Brand and Mo Speights following their minor media scuffle the past few days. I'm sure Elton is beyond pissed, and it seems Jordan doesn't care very much at all. Apparently his worrying over players' psyches is limited to Jrue Holiday. At this point I may want an implosion that requires Stefanski to make some moves. In competitive backcourt news, Allen Iverson may or may not play. We'll know more come gametime.
ALSO, check out Blazer's Edge for supercrazyawesome coverage of a team that I really like a lot. They are undoubtedly the best NBA blog on SBNation and once we have a half-decent team to generate more interest in the Sixers, I hope we get close to their level.
Prediction: Blazers win 102-97 and Primoz Brezec gets another DNPCD -- bold.