By Nick Ziegler (@Ziggy26x)
February 26th, 2014
W2W4: Brooklyn Nets vs Portland Trail Blazers
The Brooklyn Nets will be continuing their circus road-trip on Wednesday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers. The Nets are now (26-28) on the season, as they are getting close to the .500 mark, but with the Raptors winning seven of their last 10 games, it leaves the Nets 4.5 games behind them in the Atlantic Division.
- Down A Star
On Wednesday night the Trail Blazers will yet again be without their All-Star Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has missed the last four games with a groin strain. In the four games without Aldridge in this stretch the Blazers are still playing well going 3-1 with their only loss coming against the San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers are obviously missing Aldridge, who has emereged as one of the best if not the best Power Forward in the NBA this season, as he is averaging 23.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, and one block per game.
- Don’t Sleep on Lillard
Aldridge wasn’t the only Blazer to be selected to the All-Star Game however, as with the absence of Aldridge, Damian Lillard has picked up his already good scoring season in the last four games. This season the All-Star Lillard has averaged 21.4 points per game, as last season's Rookie Of The Year has clearly avoided any sort of sophomore slump. In the past four games without his partner in crime Aldridge, Lillard is averaging 30.5 points per game in those games. It will be a great match-up to watch a seemingly healthy Deron Williams against Lillard.
- Second Half Groove
Since the All-Star, like last season Williams seems healthy for the Nets, and has a bounce to his step, which just wasn’t their for the first half of the season. Against the Lakers on Sunday, it was the best game from Williams this season, as he scored a season-high 30 points. Lillard will be a lot more to handle for Williams than anyone the Lakers had to offer, but a healthy Williams is a huge difference maker for Brooklyn as they look to get to within one game of .500
- Bench Advantage
The Blazers bench is the one glaring weakness that the Nets should have a noticeable advantage in, as Brooklyn has one of the better bench units in the league, and it is expected to get better with Marcus Thornton liking making his debut Wednesday after dealing with food poisoning. Andray Blatche struggled against the Lakers, but has been great almost all season, and figures to have a bounce back game against the Blazers. The availability of Shaun Livingston may have an affect on the bench, as if Livingston cant play Jason Kidd maybe starting Andrei Kirilenko again.