Preview: February Pre-All-Star Game
Next up are the Dallas Mavericks. By this point in the year, Mavericks fans will be excited, thinking Kidd can take them to the promised land. Much like the infamous Captain Kidd of yore and pirate lore, he tends to start strong and finish poorly. He will do enough to lift Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, and Brandon Bass in the starting line-up, and Jason Terry is so good off the bench that the home court advantage will be enough to power the Mavericks to a win.
Next up is a get-well game against the Oklahoma Thunder. Man it hurts to say that...the Sonics rivalry was so good for so long, going back to 78-79 when the Sonics knocked the depleted Blazers out of the playoffs, essentially ending the brief but spectacular Bill Walton era that brought the Blazers their only Championship...so far.
It intensified as the great Drexler-Porter teams of the early 90s saw their window close just as that of the great Sonics teams of Gary Payton, Sean Kemp, and ...wait for it...Nate McMillan were making their run. There were some incredible games in that stretch.
When the Sonics picked off Jeff Green and Kevin Durant last year and Russell Westbrook this year, it looked like they might be getting the early stages of a team that in a few years might provide the Blazers with some more great I-5 rivalry moments. Unfortunately, the Sonics franchise dissolved leaving behind ashes and the expansion Thunder. Portland has always had good success against expansion teams...look for that to continue as Portland wins this one to close out their road trip.
Then the Knicks come to town. Will Zach Randolph and Stephon Marbury still be Knicks? Will the Knicks be scoring triple digits night after night? Will Coach Mike no longer be considered a genius? Can New York stay within 20 points of Portland? The last one we think we know the answer to: no. Portland in a cake walk.
Next up is a return match with the Oklahoma Thunder. It will be fun watching Durant try to score fifty to keep them in the game. Another easy win.
The last game before the break is at Golden State in a back to back. Portland will want to go into the break on a high note. They match up well with Golden State everywhere except the point. Interestingly, by this point there is a good possibility Jerryd Bayless will be seeing more playing time for Portland. If so, it makes even the point a good match-up for Portland as Bayless is reputed to already be NBA ready on defense. He could cause Monta Ellis problems in that area.
Portland wins to enter the break on a high note.
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