Portland Trail Blazers (-7.5, 193.5 o/u) at Brooklyn Nets
There was trouble brewing in the Northwest; the once scorching Portland Trail Blazers (32-13, 12-8 away) hit a rough patch recently, losing five of six games. The problems started when star forward LaMarcus Aldridge injured his left thumb. Without Aldridge’s presence in the middle, Portland looked like a shell of its former self.
Initial reports had the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (23.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG) missing upwards of six weeks, and Portland’s season appeared to be in jeopardy.
However, Aldridge surprised everyone recently by announcing that he would attempt to battle through the injury. “My idea now is to play the rest of the season,” Aldridge said. “But if it gets too much where I can’t handle it or I’m not playing at a very good level then I’ll stop. But hopefully it goes well for us.”
He returned to the lineup against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, scoring 26 points and adding nine rebounds in a 103-96 win. Aldridge wasn’t putting too much emphasis on his return, though.
“I’m not into the rah-rah story,” Aldridge said. “I just wanted to come back and play. I wanted to test it out at home, and versus these guys because I felt they were a physical team, and if I could play against these guys then that would be good.”
That’s good news for the Trail Blazers, who are about to embark on a four-game road trip, starting with a visit to the Brooklyn Nets (18-26, 8-14 home) tonight.
The Nets are suffering from injury problems of their own, with point guard Derron Williams out for the foreseeable future. Over its last two games, Brooklyn has lost by a combined 74 points (while giving up 25 out of 54 three-pointers).
“Collectively, we need to put more into the game effort-wise,” said Nets forward Mason Plumlee. “It’s not really a strategic thing anymore, we just need to give more.”
As bad as Brooklyn has been playing (especially at home, where they are 8-14), 7.5 points is too many for the travelling Trail Blazers to lay; taking the Nets and the points looks like the better play.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)