Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/18/14
On the road again The Portland Trail Blazers just wrapped up a home-and-home series with the Utah Jazz, which means it’s time to pack their bags and head on out for a seven-game road trip. Matchup: Portland Trail Blazers (24-23) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (18-26) Venue: Target Center Time: 5:00 PM PT Date: Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 Game one of the trip puts the team in Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves Monday night. Game Notes/How They Match Up The Blazers have played the Wolves twice this season. (Photo: AP) Coming into the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves were expected to be one of the teams fighting for a spot in the postseason. While their chances at the playoffs aren’t out the window half way through the year, injuries have bogged them down to the point where they’re now five-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot out West. The Blazers, on the other hand, have had a relatively healthy season—although they’re banged up heading into this game—and as a result, they’re just one game behind Houston for the final spot. What Portland has going against them in this one is their road troubles. They’re on a four-game losing streak away from the Rose Garden, and they must break that trend as the second half of the season kicks off. What to Watch: Portland Sticking with the theme of road woes, one thing to look out for on Monday is the production of J.J. Hickson. At home, J.J. Hickson has been the man. He’s averaged 18.4 points in his last five games at the Rose Garden, and when he gives the Blazers an extra boost on offense, they’re able to take advantage. On the road, Hickson’s scoring has dropped to just 10.8. You don’t expect him to be a No. 1 option night in and night out, but when he crashes the offensive boards, he creates extra opportunities for himself and his teammates. Portland needs help scoring on the road, and Hickson can give them that help if he just plays the same game he plays at home. What to Watch: Minnesota The three-point line could make or break the game for Minnesota on both offense and defense. In the two times that Minnesota has seen the Blazers this season—both Portland victories—they’ve allowed the Blazers to dominate from deep range. The Wolves were the worst team in the league in January when it came to defending the three-point line, and it’s going to be an important part of their strategy that they limit the Blazers’ weapons from getting open looks outside. On the other end of the floor, the Timberwolves are going to look to shoot better than they did the last two times they played Portland. Their combined three-point percentage between the two contests was 23.5 percent. J.J. Hickson must use his energy to produce Monday night. (Photo: Bruce Ely/The Oregonian) Both games were close enough to where better three-point shooting from Minnesota would have impacted the outcome. This team is going to look to be more efficient, and better three-point shooting will be a major part of that game plan. Key Matchup In the past two matchups between these teams, Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic has averaged 19.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. The big man in the middle has dominated a smaller Portland frontcourt, and if J.J. Hickson doesn’t hold his own, he’ll do it again Monday night. Hickson has to play defense without fouling. Pekovic is an impressive 13-of-15 from the foul line this season against Portland, so you have to body up and stay physical without giving him free opportunities. On the offensive end, Hickson has to use his speed and energy against the 290-pound Pekovic. He’s only averaging eight points per game against the Timberwolves this season, and he has to at least be a threat to score if he wants to contribute on that side of the floor. Injury Report Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Ronnie Price Minnesota: OUT—Kevin Love, Brandon Roy Prediction Since the 2007-08 season, the Trail Blazers have defeated the Timberwolves 19 out of their 21 matchups. Their struggles on the road make this one tough to call, but if history can repeat itself, the Blazers will hold the advantage. Blazers 103 – Timberwolves 98 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Nick Diaz apologizes to fans for skipping open workout

NFLPA President compares Goodell to a 2-year-old

NFL explains how Super Bowl balls will be prepped

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

WATCH: Tom Brady sings about balls being deflated

WATCH: Bruce Pearl gets warm reception in Tennessee return

WATCH: Serena Williams loses point for yelling "come on!"

Report: Missy Elliott joining Katy Perry for halftime show

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Tom Brady sings about balls

Missy Elliott to join Katy Perry at SB?

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.