Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Game #2 Preview: Blazers vs. Kings — Tonight's Storylines

By Jonathan Ryan Davis

1)  Stamina:  Tonight is the first of many back-to-back games the Blazers will encounter over the course of this shortened season.  The past few years, Portland has been one of the best teams in the NBA in the second game of back-to-backs.  With an athletic, fairly young core of players (save Camby and Thomas who defy years), Portland is poised to repeat their success in such games.  The only concern is how lackluster Portland looked at the end of last night's victory.  Was their sloppiness due to poor conditioning or nerves?  Were their legs tired or was it the lack of cohesion between players who are learning each others' tendencies?  We'll have a better idea after tonight's tilt with the Kings (who surprised the Lakers last night).

2)  Rotation:  Last night involved a lot of experimentation with the rotation by Nate McMillan (now a winning coach as the Blazers' general).  He went very young for three minutes in the second quarter before realizing they aren't quite ready.  He played with line-ups where Crawford played the point.  He used Batum, Wallace, and Matthews together.  He shuffled in his best ballers throughout the 4th trying to find the "right" clutch line-up.  It will be interesting to see if McMillan shortens the rotation tonight after the failures of Chris Johnson and Nolan Smith against Philly or if he will open up the rotation to rest of the legs of his starters on the second night of a back-to-back.

3)  Gerald Wallace:  Can Crash repeat his stellar performance from last night?  Wallace was a beast against the Sixers, as he lived up to his nickname by crashing the boards, diving for loose balls, steamrolling to the basket, and closing the passing lanes with acute anticipation.  It was reported by the Oregonian that McMillan planned to just let Wallace play, which is exactly what the Blazers did.  If Wallace "unleashed" can result in consistent production (on both the offensive and defensive ends) like the first game, the Trail Blazers will be a tough match-up for everyone. 

Go Blazers!!

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