Bulls-Trail Blazers Preview

Portland Trail Blazers Status Check:
Record: 20-23
Division: 3-5
Conference: 14-15
Road Record: 6-16
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Streak: Lost 2
Last game: 121-79 loss to the Knicks
PPG: 97.1 (12th)
Opponents PPG: 95.2 (13th)
Offensive Rating: 104.8 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 102.7 (13th)
Pace: 91.8 (15th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .485 (14th)
Turnover Percentage: .137 (10th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .738 (11th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .260 (21st)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .216 (11th)
Opp. eFG%: .488 (17th)
Opp. TO%: .149 (6th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .213 (16th)
Leading scorer: LaMarcus Aldridge (21.5)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Blazers Injury Report:
Jamal Crawford: questionable for tonight’s game (knee tendinitis)
Mehmet Okur: out indefinitely (back spasms)
Elliot Williams: expected to miss 1-2 weeks (dislocated left shoulder)
Shawne Williams out for season (foot surgery/sprained shoulder)

Overview:
Coming off a win over one of the top teams in the league, without Derrick Rose no less, the Bulls turn their attention to a mess of a squad.

The Portland Trail Blazers were busy yesterday, with a lot of their moves pointing towards them waving the white flag this season.

They fired head coach Nate McMillan yesterday. Interim coach Kaleb Canales will take over for McMillan and coach his first game tonight. If the Blazers did quit on McMillan they will really want to win tonight’s game to prove why they wanted to get rid of him. And signs do point to his team quitting.

Here’s what John Canzano Oregonian wrote: McMillan “said he was doing what he could (film sessions, pep talks, holding back minutes) trying to get control of things. Same night, I spoke to a veteran player who believed Camby and Raymond Felton were trying to get McMillan fired. I later learned that Felton’s off-court sidekick, Gerald Wallace, could also be back-biting and subversive. Anyone who paid close attention knew McMillan lost his team weeks ago.”

So now the players got what they wanted, but some of the guys are also leaving town.

The Blazers traded their starting center and small forward yesterday before the deadline. Marcus Camby was traded to Houston for Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and a future second-round pick. Yes, that Jonny Flynn. And yes that Hasheem Thabeet.

They then traded Gerald Wallace to New Jersey for the expiring contracts of Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams and a protected first rounder.

Not quite the moves that a winning team would be making at this point in the season. The Blazers also released Greg Oden. But that is a move a winning team would make. Some teams would have even made that move a few years ago.

The Blazers should have circus music following them around at this point in the season. Portland is in a little bit of a mess right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have talent.

LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best power forwards in the game. Aldridge is the team’s leading scorer averaging 21.5 points, and now since Camby is gone, the leading rebounder as well (8.1). In the trades Portland made yesterday, they traded away their rebounds, steals and blocks leaders.

Alridge scored his career high the last time these teams played a season ago, dropping 42 points in a Blazers win.

The Blazers are 2-6 in March, and are coming off a 42-point loss to the Knicks.

Portland had just eleven assists in their loss to New York. Baron Davis had ten assists in 18 minutes by himself. They had 27 turnovers and shot 37.3 percent from the field. Not exactly the recipe for success.

Tonight is the first and only time this season the Bulls and Blazers will meet.

The Bulls have some injuries, but who cares with John Lucas III leading the team, amirite? Lucas went off against the Heat scoring 24 points on 9-12 shooting. I personally want to take back everything negative I ever said about that man (until he does something easy to make fun of again; then all bets are off).

Tonight is the front end of a back-to-back for Chicago, both games held in the United Center. Their opponent tomorrow night, the 76ers, also have a back-to-back of their own tonight and tomorrow. Philly plays the Heat tonight before traveling to the United Center to take on the Bulls.

It would be great if the Bulls could have Derrick Rose back for that one, and maybe even Rip Hamilton. But someone is always going to step up in whatever role they have that night and give it their all.

“The guys we have on our team are the right guys,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They have the right attitude, approach and there’s the belief we can win.”

What a striking difference. A team behind their coach and teammates, willing to do anything to win is a beautiful situation to have.

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