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Portland Trail Blazers Week Preview & Predictions – 11/25

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

 

This year’s Portland Trail Blazers might not be very good, but they definitely have a flair for the dramatic.

Consider this past week. At Houston, they had a struggling Rockets team on the ropes, a team that fired their head coach just that morning and was blaming everyone left, right and center for a terrible start to the season. The Blazers let them use the ropes as a springboard, as impetus for a knockout blow that cost Portland the game, and led us Blazer faithful to wonder just how bad this losing streak could get.

As the Los Angeles Clippers, a good team helmed by two legit superstars in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, came into Rip City, things were looking grim, until…

Lillard Time.

Ed Davis was the player of the Clippers game, putting 17 and 15, cleaning up the Blazers’ frequent misses, and generally providing a shot in the arm Portland desperately needed. However, that Herculean effort from Davis didn’t put the Clippers away. It took Lillard’s three consecutive three-pointers and an assist on a Mason Plumlee and-one, and some actual, honest-to-God DEFENSE, to send the whiny Clips packing.

In consecutive games, we saw the bad qualities of a young team and the good qualities of a young team. In Houston, the Blazers couldn’t finish the game and let the opposing superstar player (James Harden) hoss his team to the finish line. At home against the Clippers, despite poor showings from the youngest players, Lillard, Davis and CJ McCollum used their skills and talent to overcome a good Los Angeles squad in front of the Rip City faithful.

With Thanksgiving a couple days from now, I took some time to think about what I’m thankful for. It’s an exercise in thought that’s frankly needed every once in awhile, if only to realize that no matter how bad you have it, there’s always somebody that’s got it worse. Perspective that some people don’t want, but everybody needs.

I’m thankful that the Blazers are entertaining this season. I’m thankful that Lillard is taking on his new role and succeeding at it, as much as he can; doing what he’s doing, even though he’s being handsomely paid for it, isn’t easy. I’m thankful for McCollum doing his best to prove that he belongs on the team. I’m thankful for Ed Davis busting his butt trying to help his team win, even with a 20-year-old kid starting in front of him.

I’m thankful that Meyers Leonard is keeping his head up despite separating his shoulder, for Mason Plumlee proving that white guys are athletes too, for Al-Farouq Aminu demonstrating that he does have something resembling a three-point shot (though he’s struggled shooting lately), for Allen Crabbe, Noah Vonleh and Moe Harkless learning NBA defense the hard way (those lessons will pay off for them).

I’m thankful for my father’s continued good health, for my brother being…my brother, the folks here at OSN being patient with me, and most of all, I feel thankful that there are actually people that will read my opinions about professional basketball. Thank you!

Alright, time for picks! Let’s go!

Stats courtesy of NBA.com and basketball-reference.com. All games broadcast on AM 620 Rip City Radio.

Saturday, Nov. 28: vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, 7:00 PM, KGW

The Skinny: The Lakers stink, and they stink for many reasons. They’re young. They’re poorly coached. They’re lacking effort at times (like in the last game these teams played). But I touched on those subjects last week.

This week, we talk about Kobe Bryant.

Bryant’s 20th season has gotten off to an atrocious start:

10 G, 31.1 MPG, 16.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, 33% FG%, 20% 3PT%, 2.2 turnovers a game, 28% usage

The usage stat means that while Kobe’s on the court, 28% of the Lakers’ possessions end with him shooting the ball or turning it over. Looking at those craptastic shooting numbers, that’s obviously not ideal. The only thing positive you can say about Bryant’s season so far is that he’s healthy, other than the usual older player issues he deals with.

There’s a certain sadness in watching athletes that have been playing since I was a child either retire or go through this slow professional death. Some, like Dirk Nowitzki and Tom Brady, are aging more or less gracefully. Others, like Bryant and Peyton Manning, have pretty much fallen off a cliff.

I’ve watched guys like them do their thing, and become among the best ever at it, since I was 11 years old. Being 29 now, I can hardly remember an NBA or NFL season without any of those players. It’s weird to see them diminished or just plain terrible, and it’ll be sad to see them go.

That’s life, though. Everything has an expiration date, whether that’s tomorrow, a year from now, 70 years from now, or a billion years from now. I cure those sad feelings by watching Stephen Curry and his band of merry men obliterate everything in their path, or the youngsters in Milwaukee learn how to score at a league-average rate while maintaining their defensive prowess, or even seeing a young, bad team make baby steps…like the Blazers.

I wish there was more to enjoy about Bryant’s probable last season than him chucking contested 20-footers and missing, but since he’s built a legend by making those difficult, low-efficiency shots, I guess it’s fitting.

Player To Watch: Ed Davis. With the roll he’s been on lately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting by Saturday, Vonleh’s potential and the future be damned. 

Davis’ effort, hustle, and timely rebounding will be harder for coach Terry Stotts to keep on the bench the longer Davis can keep it up.

Prediction: Portland won pretty easily in LA, with Lillard hanging 30 points and 13 assists on the Lakers’ young, overmatched backcourt. Look for Lillard to dominate again in a Blazer victory.

Last week, the Blazers went 2-2 while I recorded a 3-1 week. My only miss was the Clipper game; I picked them to lose to the Clips.

Trail Blazers’ Record: 6-9

Jared’s Picks Record: 6-9

Bro Counter: 29 to go!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Try not to pass out on your Uncle Fred’s favorite armchair after devouring a solid pound of turkey, please.

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films. 

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#12 Rollerball

Some of the non-athletic scenes in this dystopian classic show their age, but Rollerball is a strangely prescient film that anticipated both the corporatization of sport and fans’ limitless taste for violence. Bonus points for the ominous intro music.

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#11 A League of Their Own

A comedy that looks back to the antithesis of corporate sport – a women’s baseball league during World War II with many memorable lines to choose from (e.g.,”There’s no crying in baseball.”)

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#10 Remember The Titans

Yes, filmmakers took liberties with some of the facts dealing with the integration of a high school football team in Virginia. But there’s a reason football teams often screen this film on the eve of big games. It’s a damn inspirational tale.

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#9 The Natural

This film has grown on me over time. Originally, it seemed slow and schmaltzy. Now, it seems well-paced and charming. Then and now, the re-created scenes of pre-World War II ballparks arrive like perfectly preserved postcards from the past.  

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#8 The Longest Yard

Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.  

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#7 Slap Shot

The Hanson brothers. Enough said.

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#6 Rocky

Often imitated, but never replicated. The definitive underdog boxing story featuring Sylvester Stallone before he became a self-caricature in multiple sequels. Impossible to hear the theme song without being motivated to get off the couch.

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#5 Seabiscuit

A fantastic book as well as a great movie. Like “The Natural,” Seabiscuit captures its Depression-era setting for modern-day viewers taken back to an era when horse racing actually meant something in America. 

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#4 Requiem for a Heavywei

A too often-forgotten film these days but a wonderful boxing drama that shows the sport’s underside with memorable  performances by Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

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#3 Hoosiers

Want to know something about small-town America in the 1950s and about Indiana basketball? This hoops movie does all of that with a healthy dose of redemption throughout. 

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#2 Bull Durham

There’s a pretty good case to be made this movie played a huge part in the rebirth and re-marketing of minor league baseball. As written by former minor leaguer Ron Shelton, there are many great scenes to choose from but this one is a favorite. 

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#1 Raging Bull

A rags-to-riches-to-rags story of boxer Jake LaMotta meets the actor born to play him, Robert De Niro. Not a false moment in this black-and-white powerhouse.

 
 

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