Originally written November 28, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
PDX needs this one The Portland Trail Blazers  are coming off arguably their most disappointing loss of the season; a contest against the Detroit Pistons that was considered one of the easier games on the schedule through this point in the year. Matchup: Portland (6-8) @ Washington Wizards (0-12) Venue: Verizon Center Time: 4:00 PM PT Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 Losing to the Pistons was bad, but losing to the Wizards would be catastrophic for a team that needs every win it can get. Game Notes/How They Match Up Losing to the Pistons was bad. Losing to the Wizards would be worse. The Washington Wizards are the only winless team remaining in the NBA, and a big reason for this is that they struggle to put points on the board every time they take the floor. They are dead-last in points per game, as they average only 90 points per contest, and they also shoot the worst field-goal percentage in the league, as they are the only team to complete fewer than 40 percent of their shots. Portland has proven to be a middle-of-the-road scoring team this season, as they’re 15th in the league at 98.6 points per game. Where Washington has the edge is defensively. They run one of the slower paces in the NBA, which creates for less scoring opportunities for their opponents. They allow just 98.2 points per game, which is good enough for 14th in the league. The Blazers are sitting just below the last-place Phoenix Suns when it comes to points allowed, as they give up an unfortunate 102.4 points per contest. What to Watch: Portland When you’re playing a bad team, you don’t want them to get the edge early. Against Detroit, the Blazers were outscored 28-19 in the first, and they were never able to truly make up the difference. It was one of their worst first quarters of the season, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the team plays early against the Wizards. Part of the reason for Portland’s stagnant offense was Damian Lillard. The 6’3” point guard may be leading all rookies in scoring this season, but he started the night off missing his first 12 shots. Getting the youngster involved from the get-go will help spark the Trail Blazers’ offense. Washington may not score a lot of points, but that doesn’t mean Portland should relax on defense. Part of coming out strong happens on the defensive end, and it’s going to be crucial that they keep the Wizards on pace for the 90 points that they’ve averaged thus far. What to Watch: Washington Even though Washington runs a slower pace than Portland, they’re averaging more fast-break points than the Trail Blazers at this point in the year. Stopping the run is important for the Blazers, as they allow the fifth-most points in transition in the NBA. Seeing how bad the Wizards have been scoring the basketball this year, they’re going to look to score early and often against a Portland defense that has struggled in transition this season. Barton and the rest of the Blazers bench must step up as season progresses. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty) Washington isn’t a team that is going to look to run all game, but you’d better believe they’ll take advantage of any opportunities Portland gives them. Key Matchup There are two key matchups to watch in this contest, and neither are traditional one-on-one situations. The first to watch is the battle between the starters. Portland’s starters are averaging more points than any other starting unit in the NBA—by a relative long shot—while Washington’s first five is in last place. The starters for Portland are nearly doubling the point production of the Wizards’ starters. The second matchup belongs to the two bench units, where it is the exact opposite story. Washington’s bench is leading the league in points per game, while the Trail Blazers reserves are posting the fewest points in the NBA, again by a relative long shot. Whichever team is able to find unexpected production is going to have an instant edge in this contest. If the Blazers’ bench players step up, they’ll outmatch Washington for an entire 48 minutes. However, if the Wizards’ starters are the ones that challenge early, the game will take a turn in their favor, and they’ll likely put up more points than their average. Injury Report Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Meyers Leonard Washington: DAY-TO-DAY—Nene Prediction The Blazers struggled against the Detroit Pistons on Monday, but if they can come out and play a better first quarter this time around, they should take care of business against the 0-12 Washington Wizards. Blazers 101 – Wizards 90 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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