LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers face the Phoenix Suns in the season opener on Wednesday.
The Blazers look to kick off the new year on a high note after a disappointing 33-49 record and missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
With a retooled bench and returning four players from one of the most productive starting fives last year, Portland hopes to win its fifth consecutive season opener. But there is still a lot of respect to be earned from around the league and a lot of questions on where the Blazers fit within the grand scheme of the Western Conference.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix
Watch: KGW, Fox Sports Arizona
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 198
- Spread: Blazers by 4.5
Blazers Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
- Wesley Matthews, heart, questionable
- Earl Watson, calf, questionable
- CJ McCollum, foot, doubtful
Suns Injury Report
- Emeka Okafor, neck, doubtful
- Markieff Morris, suspended 1 game
Suns At a Glance
Phoenix is undoubtedly looking ahead to a loaded 2014 NBA Draft after trading away starting center Marcin Gortat, along with Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee to the Washington Wizards for Emeka Okafor and a first-round pick. Okafor is doubtful for the Suns and not even expected to suit up at all this season.
Will be shocked if Okafor ever plays a minute in PHX. Suns didn't get him to play. Wiz could still have as much as $16M in cap room next yr.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) October 25, 2013
Who's left? The backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic will get every chance to do everything for Phoenix. Channing Frye, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee will also see a lot of opportunities.
Matchup to Watch
Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Miles Plumlee and Channing Frye
The Blazers will have a huge advantage up front, as Lopez and Aldridge should have their way inside. Plumlee is largely untested after being a first-round pick last season by the Indiana Pacers, and traded to Phoenix in the Luis Scola deal.
Frye, a former Blazer, sat out the entire 2012-13 season due to an enlarged heart and is just getting back into game shape.
Aldridge and Lopez will each have a chance to snag double-doubles to begin the year.
Blazers 101, Suns 94
The Blazers have matchup advantages all over the floor. Their backcourt of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Mo Williams, along with the defensive versatility from Nicolas Batum, should be able to wear down and contain Dragic and Bledsoe.
Phoenix will play with a nothing-to-lose attitude all year along, knowing it's building for the future, and Portland should find its first win in Phoenix since Dec. 10, 2010.