THE SCOUTING REPORT
Here's HighTops with your scouting report:
This is the second of four games against Portland and the second to be played in Portland. The first game was played Dec. 15th. Greg Oden had already fractured his left patella but Joel Przybilla was still available and started at center. Nicolas Batum was inactive, so Martell Webster started at SF. Rudy Fernandez was injured. LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Andre Miller completed the starting lineup. The Kings starting lineup of Andres Nocioni, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, Donte Greene and Tyreke Evans combined for 52 points and were outscored by the Blazers' starters by 16 in the 95-88 Kings loss.
A week later, Przybilla ruptured his right patella tendon and dislocated his kneecap, which put an end to his season. Portland was forced to go with 6’9" Juwan Howard at center. Even so, the Blazers were able to defeat the Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Bobcats, and Spurs. But at the trade deadline they made a trade that sent Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake to the Clippers for Marcus Camby. Camby had started his first seven games and was averaging 3.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg on 32 percent shooting and 50 percent from the FT line. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle and joined Oden and Przybilla on the inactive last for last Sunday’s game against Denver, and is listed as day-to-day.
Since the trade Portland has gone 5-4 and 1-2 at home. The wins have come against the Nets, Raptors, Wolves, Grizzlies and Pacers, and the losses came against Boston, Utah, Chicago and Denver. Their PPG and RPG are slightly misleading because Portland plays at the slowest pace of any team in the league with less than 90 possessions per game. For the season, the Trailblazers are 21st in scoring at a little over 98 ppg but outscored their opponent an average of 2.75 ppg. Their true Offensive Efficiency is 7th in the league at 107.7 points per 100 possessions. The team's FG% and 3P% is only slightly better then the Kings, but they are the 4th best FT shooting team in the league. They’ve scored over 100 pts per game in the last 7 games.
For the season Portland is 27th in rebounds (39.9rpg), 26th in blocked shots (4.2bpg), and 27th in Steals (6.4 spg), but has the 2nd lowest turnover rate in the league at 12.7 per game. But, again the numbers are misleading because of their pace of play. They actually average more rebounds, steals and blocks than their opponents while averaging fewer turnovers. When you only look at the differential and not the total, Portland is in the top 10 in most of these categories.
Since the trade deadline:
- Andre Miller, 6-2 200lb, starts at PG and is averaging 14 pts, 4 rebs and 6.4 asts on 44.5% from the field and 30% from three.
- Brandon Roy, 6-6 210lb, starts at SG and is averaging 17 pts, 4 rebs and 4 asts on 40.7% from the field and 27.6% from three.
- Nicolas Batum, 6-8 200lb, has started the last 7 games at SF and is averaging 10 pts, 3 rebs, and 1 ast on 52.1% from the field and 41.7% from three.
- LaMarcus Aldridge, 6-11 240lb, starts at PF and is averaging 19 pts, 7 rebs, and 2 asts on 53.6% from the field and he’s 5-15 from three for the season.
- Juwan Howard, 6-9 250lb, will start at center if Camby is out. Howard is averaging 5.9 pts, 3.8 rebs, and 1.2 asts with 3 starts in the last 10 games.
The main contributors off the bench are:
- Rudy Fernandez, 6-6 185lb, who is averaging 10.6 pts, 2.7 rebs, 1.7 asts on 43.8% from the field, 43.1% from three and 93.3% from the FT line.
- Jerryd Bayless, 6-3 200lb, who is averaging 9.9 pts, 2.4 rebs, and 2.5 asts on 47.7% from the field, 46.2% from three and 88.6% from the FT line.
Portland has the 2nd lowest FGAs at the rim and inside 10 ft in the league but they do have the 7th highest completion rate at the rim at 63%. The Kings give up the 5th highest number of baskets at the rim 17.7 per game at a completion rate of 64.3%. In the first game Portland was 13-18 for 72.3% on 10 assisted baskets. Eight of those assists came from guards; Roy had 5, Blake has 2 and Miller had 1.
Against a team that’s 7th in offensive efficiency, 2nd lowest turnover rate in the league and the slowest pace in the league, and you have an opponent where mistakes will kill you and where you have to score on almost every possession. We also have an opponent that’s 4th in FT shooting which is another of our weak spots. The Kings need to continue to limit turnovers, and continue to limit penetration into the paint by the guards. Hopefully we’ll at least be able to get our share of defensive rebounds with JT back, Omri rested and Carl added to our frontcourt.
As with the OKC game this should be a great test for the Kings against one of the up and coming young powerhouses in the West.
THE KEY BATTLE
Carl Landry vs. LaMarcus Aldridge. Landry and Aldridge aren't dissimilar, actually, even if Aldridge is taller. Both focus on scoring more than rebounding or defense. LMA is better on the boards, but Landry is likely the better man defender. Landry's also more of a post player than Aldridge's shooting styled face-up four. Landry will need to work hard to keep Aldridge from getting putbacks; at the other end, Aldridge is going to have to make sure he both meets Landry on his mid-range attempts and trying to keep Landry from getting loose near the rim. Also, he will probably try to knock that silly top hat off Carl's head.
HOPE WE CAN BELIEVE IN
This chart shows Portland's cumulative point differential from 2006-07 (the season which followed the team's disastrious 21-win campaign) to the present. It also shows Sacramento's cumulative point differential beginning this season, which follows the team's disastrous 17-win campaign.
Juwan Howard will score more points today than the Calgary Flames.
Blazers Edge is changing sports journalism. Seriously. What a great job Dave Deckard and Ben Golliver do over there. Constant awe.
7 PM PT in lovely Rip City. Two game threads (7 and 8:15) and a post-gamer (9:45).