Game 10 Preview - Portland Trailblazers at Brooklyn Nets

Jim Urquhart-USA TODAY Sports

If I told you Brooklyn would be missing five of their best players (Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce & Andrei Kirilenko) and had to play the second half of a back-to-back against a tough Clippers team, what would you expect the result to be? If you were like a bunch of people (myself included), you'd think the Nets would be noncompetitive and lose by 20+ points. However, the Nets surprised a bunch of folks and give the Clippers a fight before ultimately losing 110-103. They're back in town for this game before heading back on the road to face Charlotte and Minnesota. As of this writing, no word on the status of the walking wounded.

Coming into the Barclays Center are the upstart Portland Trail Blazers. They're off to an 8-2 start and find themselves atop the competitive Northwest Division. They're riding a six game winning streak and on Sunday night, beat the Raptors in overtime.

After this game and one in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, they return home for a game with the Bulls before running to Golden State as part of a challenging back-to-back.

The season so far

What have these teams been up to? Let's see the numbers:

Metric

Brooklyn

Portland

Record

3-6 8-2

Pace

95.92 96.3

Offensive Efficiency

98.8 107.2

Defensive Efficiency

103.7 102.8

Offensive Rebounding percentage

24.5 29.4

Turnover rate

15.5 15.3

Assist rate

16 17.4

Rebound rate

49.2 52

Free throw rate

33.2 24

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.3 51.6

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

51.8 48.6

It's tough to know what to expect of this team against Portland --or what the big matchup will be-- when there hasn't been any word as to the status of their big players. Assuming Williams is out of action, look for Shaun Livingston to get the start. He's done a very good job running the offense as he's made sure to keep everyone on the court involved in the action. In fact, I think he's done a much better job of running the offense than Williams has. Also, the Nets are going to need another solid performance out of Andray Blatche. Despite some early trouble, he gave the Nets 19 points & 8 rebounds. He's gonna have another challenging frontcourt matchup, but hopefully (for him) the Clipper game will lead to a good stretch of play from Blatche.

Leading the charge for Portland is the trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum. Lillard's overall field goal percentage is down, but he's made up for it by shooting 42 percent from downtown. Mo Williams is coming into this game on a hot streak & has been providing Portland with scoring bunch off the bench on highly efficient shooting. They run one of the elite offenses in the Association three weeks into the season. This was after their loss to the Rockets, but Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge describes a season long issue for the Blazers:

This continues the story of Portland's season so far.  The Blazers' three-point shooting has to go right in order for them to win.  They have to keep the fast break deficit down.  They have to hit their foul shots to manufacture easy points.  They probably also have to find at least one more edge...on the boards, maybe in turnovers.  Meanwhile they have to limit the exposure of their bench bigs.  These things all have to go right because you know the Blazers will be giving up a large number of points in the paint and a high shooting percentage.  The game is like a constantly-deflating hot-air balloon--the points in the paint and high percentage for the opposition equaling a rent in the side--into which the Blazers constantly have to pump flaming shooting, energy, board-work, et al just to keep the thing from collapsing.  The Blazers can win games.  They have the talent and skill to do so.  But there are so many ways they can also lose them.  Every game this season is going to be a mad dash trying to keep the vulnerabilities from costing more than the strengths produce.

As Deckard alluded to, Portland has been very successful from the great beyond. The Blazers are shooting 42 percent from deep, which is good for fourth best in the league. Their work on the glass is much improved from last year & has been a key to their good play.  One thing that could be a concern for Portland is fatigue. They're on the second night of a back-to-back and saw their four best players play 39+ minutes in their win.

Player to Watch: LaMarcus Aldridge

The big guy is one of the more versatile and under-appreciated scorers in the Association. He's a highly efficient player in the low post as well as in the high post. His jump shot has improved dramatically from his rookie year where he shot just 35 percent. These days, he's grown into a solid mid post player and is good for 40 percent from the midrange every season. This year has been no exception for LA. He's averaging 20 points on

As it relates to the game on Monday night, he should have a big night. Even if Garnett does play, he probably won't be at 100 percent. And even if he is 100 percent, based on his level of play so far this year, it won't have much of a positive effect on Brooklyn. Their isn't much depth behind him, so he's gonna need to be on his game if Portland wants to grab the win.

From the Vault


Head on back to the Spring of 1990 and relive one of the finer moments in the career of the late Drazen Petrovic.

More reading: Blazers's Edge

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