With Portland's three-guard lineup likely dead, it will be Steve Blake facing off against Derrick Rose at point. Rose began the season slowly and has been inconsistent at times, but he's capable of huge games. Since Blake won't be able to defend Rose, it could be one of those big nights. I like Andre Miller coming in with the second unit. He'll get things going on offense, but Rose and Jannero Pargo will be too much.
Back at his natural position and feeling good about his role, Brandon Roy will be looking for another offensive outburst. His opponent, John Salmons, is a crafty scorer and can be a tough matchup at times. We've also got Rudy Fernandez going against Kirk Hinrich. I think both battles will be close, but overall, the Blazers at home and Roy feeling revitalized will be the difference.
Martell Webster finally snapped out of his early season slump with a huge 21-point, 13-rebound effort against the lowly Timberwolves. All he needed was to hit a few threes to gain back some confidence, and he certainly did that with four second-half threes, including three in a row during the third quarter. Unfortunately, Webster has a near-impossible matchup in Luol Deng. Deng is bigger, and plays bigger, so Webster will struggle defensively if Deng goes inside. Ideally, Webster can get loose for a few threes. Deng wins it though.
Tyrus Thomas is out due to a lifting accident, which has opened the door for Taj Gibson, the rookie out of USC. He's been inconsistent at times, but so far his rebounding numbers have been good for a rookie, and he's got a lot of potential. This will be a game that belongs to LaMarcus Aldridge, though. He had a rough outing while in foul trouble on Saturday, but I suspect he'll come out angry and wanting to prove himself against Chicago. I'm thinking he pushes 20 points and exceeds 10 rebounds. LA wins.
One of the big surprises in the league this year has been the play of third-year man Joakim Noah. In his last seven games he's averaging just under 14 points and 14 rebounds per game. He's an absolute workhorse on the boards and will be a huge test for Greg Oden. The good news is that our backup plays a pretty good center and Brad Miller looks completely unathletic in the games I've seen this year. I like Joel Przybilla and Oden to smash these guys, and maybe even keep Noah off the boards. I'll predict Noah gets fewer than 10 rebounds with the way Oden blocks out every time. Blazers win here and win the game!