The Blazers take on the 0-14 New Jersey Nets tonight at the Rose Garden. To be fair, the Nets have been without their star PG Devin Harris for most of the season and Courtney Lee (just returned from a groin injury) and Yi Jianlian (out with bad knee) have played a total of 10 games. Still though, they play in the East where they should get some win-able games here and there. The Blazers still need to take this game seriously, because you don't want to be the team that gives a win-less team their first W.
Blake continues to get open looks from beyond the arc. But overall has been very inconsistent. Andre Miller responded to being sent to the second unit with a tremendous game Monday against the Bulls. Sixteen points, five assists and a plus-30 leading the bench mob works for me.
If Devin Harris were at full strength and Rafer Alston was the back-up PG bringing the spark off the bench, then the Nets might get the edge here, but that is not the case. Harris has only played four games since coming back from injury, and is still coming off the bench as he gets back up to speed. Rafer meanwhile has been shooting 33 percent for the season in Harris' absence. Harris' return should lead to a little less Skip-To-My-Lou, which is a good thing for the Nets.
Roy is getting comfortable again at his natural "Point-Shooting guard" position, meaning he should be a happy camper. All season Roy has seemed bothered by the lineup changes and the overall play of the team. I don't care if he's been using his star status to get what he wants. I just want him to get "right". We're do for a monster game from our all-star.
Chris Douglas-Roberts has been filling in admirably while Courtney Lee was out with injury. CDR is a Most Improved Player candidate averaging 18 ppg (up from five ppg in his rookie year). Basically he is the only positive storyline so far this season for the win-less Nets.
Martell Webster the starter is a better player than Trenton Hassell. Since re-joining the starting lineup Webster has had a great game and a sub-par game, but the main thing is he's getting shots and his teammates are looking for him. An active Martell, combined with the minutes that Roy and Rudy get here, gives Portland the edge at this position.
LaMarcus is coming off one of his best all-around games of the season. LA has 24 pts, 13 rebounds, a block, and his first 3-pointer of the year in Monday's game versus Chicago. Josh Boone will not be able to handle the L-Train in this match-up, especially coming off a game last night against Denver's bigs. Another double-double is in Aldridge's future tonight.
I'm going to throw New Jersey a bone here. Brook Lopez gets the edge at the center position. Lopez is a rising star in the East averaging 17 ppg and nine rpg, while leading the NBA in blocked shots. He also had good games against us last year (22 points and 17 points). That, and I don't want to get too high on Oden after the career game that he had on Monday. The match-up against Lopez will be a good gauge of the progress and consistency that Oden has been showing off over the last few games. I hope we see the same confident, beast of a player that we saw last game.