Originally written December 31, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
On the Road Again The Portland Trail Blazers will be hitting the road after vanquishing the Philadelphia 76ers at home to put their record once again above .500 on the season (15-14). They will need to play particularly well on their road streak, however, to keep their heads above the water; especially when considering their first game on this road trip is against the New York Knicks. Matchup: Portland (15-14) vs. New York (21-9) Venue: Madison Square Garden Time: 4:30pm PT Date: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2012 This will be the first meeting between these two teams this year, New York being heavily favored as many believe this is the year they can once again contend for a championship. Should the Blazers wish to solidify themselves as a legitimate playoff contender, they must play a sound game against an extremely dangerous and impressive team. Game Notes/How They Match Up When you look at their statistics on paper these two teams are relatively similar, especially when looking at how many points they score and how many points they allow per game. The New York Knicks currently put up an average of right around 102 points per game while giving up 97 points. The Blazers, somewhat similar to the Knicks, put up an average of right around 97 points per game while giving up 99 points. Though these numbers do give the Knicks a slight advantage on paper, both teams can clearly put up a relatively good number of points. Can the combo of Lillard and Aldridge fuel a Blazers victory? One big thing that jumps off the sheet when looking at the Blazers in this game and wondering if they will have a shot is their current road record. Portland is just 4-10 on the road this year, compared to their impressive 11-4 home record (does that remind anybody of a certain Portland soccer team?). Clearly the Blazers have issues they need to settle on the road, and playing against the New York Knicks is not exactly the easiest way to start. Not only do the Knicks have a better paper trail, they look to have a little bit better roster that will give them quite an edge over the Blazers. Led by Carmelo Anthony actually sharing the ball this year, the Knicks’ roster is loaded with talent that should get by Portland. However, should Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge continue their impressive play, this game may be a lot closer than many would expect. Another reason this game may prove closer than many would expect is because there is the chance that Amar’e Stoudemire will still be recovering from his surgery, possibly keeping him out of this game. What to Watch: Portland The way the Blazers will stay in this game is if Lillard and Aldridge have big games, as they are more than capable of. The Knicks have a great offense that will be very difficult to stop, so Portland’s best shot at staying in this game is if their two star players (aforementioned) can keep up with the pace of New York. Increasing the likelihood of this happening will be Stoudemire’s expected absence. If he is out, Lillard and Aldridge will be all the more likely to be extremely productive on Tuesday. What to Watch: New York It will be very interesting to see what happens should Stoudemire sit out this game. Will Carmelo try to put more of this game on his shoulders? Will he still spread the ball around? As can be seen, a lot of the Knicks’ offense will be dependent on what Carmelo decides to do. If he regresses back to his selfish attitude, the Blazers may have a shot at the big upset. Key Matchup The big matchup in this game will be Lillard vs. Anthony, the two players who will likely be key in determining this game’s outcome. The two will likely see a lot each other throughout the night, playing the perimeter and looking to break up opposing attacks and offenses. Injury Report Portland: Doubtful – Meyers Leonard; Questionable – Wesley Matthews  Philadelphia: Questionable – Carmelo Anthony  Prediction Even with the potential absence of Stoudemire the Knicks should be able to take care of a Portland team that can’t seem to get anything going on the road.  New York – 105 Portland – 93 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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