Originally written March 03, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Win the winnable games The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off their first double-digit victory since Jan. 23, and they’ll need to build off that momentum to make a push at the postseason. Matchup: Portland Trail Blazers (27-31) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (13-46) Venue: Rose Garden Time: 7:00 PM PT Date: Monday, March 4, 2013 As the 10th seed out West, the season isn’t lost for Portland just yet. However, a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats would put things in perspective, and a run at the lottery would seem far more likely than a run at the playoffs. Ben Gordon torched the Blazers the last time the two met. (Photo: Matt Rochinski/Bobcats.com) Game Notes/How They Match Up The last time these two matched up, it proved to be one of the most dramatic comebacks of the 2012-13 season. Portland trailed by 18 with just over five minutes to play, but good defense, quick offense and extreme determination proved to be the difference makers. The Blazers forced overtime, and ended up outscoring the Bobcats 118-112 when it was all said and done. On the season, the Bobcats have had trouble containing their opponents at the most fundamental levels. They score the fourth-fewest points in the league, they give up the third-most points per game and they don’t move the ball well in their offensive sets. There’s no reason the Blazers should lose this game, but it’s no secret that they have played both up and down to their competition this season. What to Watch: Portland When it comes to the Trail Blazers, there’s only one thing to watch for Monday night against the Bobcats, and that’s energy. When the Blazers have played the NBA’s best, they’ve come out with high energy, and they’ve been able to exert a level of confidence that makes you believe they can beat anybody. However, when they’ve faced off against the teams they’re supposed to beat, that’s when they get content and give away winnable contests. The blowout win against the Minnesota Timberwolves should be huge for this team’s confidence. Having a game under their belt that proves they can win big should set a precedent when it comes to the league’s bottom-tier teams. Charlotte is as winnable as it gets, and as long as the Blazers play with both energy and confidence, they’ll be fine this time around. What to Watch: Charlotte The Charlotte Bobcats have been the worst team in the NBA this season, and there’s simply no debating that fact. They’ve won just 13 of their 59 games, they don’t have a true go-to player and the talent on their roster is as shallow as it gets around the Association. So how did they manage to find success against the Blazers back on Dec. 3? Three-point shooting. Led by Ben Gordon, the Bobcats completed 48 percent of their long-range attempts. Gordon was 8-of-12 from behind the arc, and he scored a game-high 29 points in 35 minutes. The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off a big win against the Charlotte Bobcats. (Photo: AP) Charlotte is just 22nd in the league in three-point shooting. If their shot isn’t falling, they won’t find success on the offensive side of the floor. Portland needs to defend the three-point line, and if it does it well from start to finish, it will have the edge come Monday night. Key Matchup When the Blazers traveled to Charlotte for the first game of this series, Damian Lillard scored an impressive 24 points while knocking down 11 of his 14 free-throw attempts. Unfortunately, he was just 1-of-8 from behind the arc, which brought his field-goal percentage down to 37.5 percent for the game. Kemba Walker, on the other hand, shot 47.4 percent throughout the contest, and he scored 22 points—the most of any Bobcats starter. Both of these young guards have the potential to be great, but efficiency is what’s going to help them find success right away. Damian Lillard has been the more consistent of the two throughout the season, but another poor shooting night  could help the Bobcats get ahead early. It’s become clear that Portland’s success rises and falls with Lillard, so a good showing will be necessary if the team hopes to take down a winnable opponent. Injury Report Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Nicolas Batum Charlotte: N/A Prediction There’s no reason the Blazers can’t win this game. As long as they play with energy from start to finish, they’ll avoid having to play catch up late in the contest. Blazers 111 – Charlotte 97 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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