Written by: Kevin Chan
Trail Blazers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Andre Miller
SG: Brandon Roy
SF: Nicholas Batum
PF: LeMarcus Aldridge
C: Marcus Camby
Key Reserves: Wesley Matthews, Dante Cunningham
Injuries: Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla, Rudy Fernandez
As much talent as the Blazers have on their roster, they can never seem to avoid injuries. It’s as if they did something to collectively piss off the basketball Gods and now they’re paying the price. Rookie Elliott recently had knee surgery and is lost for the season. Fernandez was the latest player to succumb to injury (back) and he is listed as day-to-day.
The Blazer frontline is decimated since Oden and Przybilla haven’t played a game this season due to – you guessed it – injury. Luckily, 36 year old Camby, one of the leagues premier back-up bigmen, has played admirably and stayed healthy. Aldridge is blossoming in his fourth year and is posting career highs of 19.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks.
The crown jewel of the Blazers is All-Star Brandon Roy. He can score in a variety of ways and has a penchant for hitting game winning buzzer beaters. However, this year he has struggled with his shot – connecting on only 39.8% of his attempts.
Nevertheless, he is a dangerous scorer and defender in the mold of the Lakers Kobe Bryant. Roy’s cohort, Miller has been flat out solid. In his eleventh season, Miller is as crafty as ever on both ends of the floor and is averaging a career high 1.8 steals per game.
Wing Batum has been brilliant this year – filling the role of the ‘glue-guy’ that the Blazers were missing last year. He’s a lanky player who can shoot the trey, rebound, defend, and he doesnít turn the ball over. Sixth man Matthews has also been superb and has provided a spark off the bench.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
The Lakers need to take care of the ball since the Blazers average 9 rips per game. Assuming that Phil is still looking to limit Kobe on the defensive end, Artest will probably get the task of guarding Roy and that should be an interesting match-up. Batum is no cupcake, and hopefully Kobe is up to the task of chasing his man as opposed to cheating off the ball. The Blazers’ big men thrive off of offensive put backs so, Gasol and Odom will need to secure defensive rebounds and do their part to keep Camby and Aldridge off the glass. The Lakers’ bench is much deeper and more talented than the Blazers’ counterparts – which will be the difference maker that should result in a Lakers victory.