WASHINGTON WIZARDS (-1) @ PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
While a cross-country trip to the Pacific Northwest is never easy for an Eastern Conference squad, with the return of Caron Butler just 6-games ago the Wiz are still looking to find their early-season rhythm as they head into the playoffs. Since Butler’s return the Wiz have won 5 of 6, including Sunday’s impressive win against Detroit, but still can’t shake Philly & Toronto in the standings as they both sit less than 1.5 games behind them…which is huge, since the lowest seed of the three will probably be playing the Pistons in Round One. As for their West Coast trip, with the homecourt magic at Arco for the Kings, the Lakeshow, and Utah closing out the journey, Coach Jordan knows they need to start out with victories against POR & SEA to keep pace in the postseason race. While the Blazers have been solid at home, their coming off an embarrassing loss at Seattle last night (who was playing with Earl Watson & Chris Wilcox) and lost LaMarcus Aldridge to an ankle sprain in the 3rd quarter (questionable-tonight). As the season has progressed for Portland...
As the season has progressed for Portland, their lack of depth inside has worn-out many of their wing-players and forced McMillian to use a shorter lineup more than he’d like. With Aldridge probably out tonight, that leaves an even bigger void as the Blazers have to find somebody to stop one of the most underrated PFs in the league in Antawn Jamison (last 5 games: 28 ppg, 11 rpg, 44-3pt%). Throw-in the defensive skills of DeShawn Stevenson on do-everything guard Brandon Roy, the no-longer rusty Caron Butler and his nightly passion, and the unbelievable efficient play of supersized-PG Antonio Daniels on the scrawny Steve Blake, and I expect the Wiz to come away with an easy victory tonight…Wizards by 6-10 points
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (-7) @ INDIANA PACERS
The two spots on the floor the Pacers can’t stop are on the low-block and at the point…oooh yeah, not what the Dr. ordered with CP3 & David West coming to town. As for the incentive for the Hornets trip to boring Indianapolis, they currently only sit a half game behind the Lakers for the Conference lead and know their in for a battle with Boston & Cleveland on the schedule later this week. As for the Pacers, after losing 11 of 15 and basically destroying their playoff chances, Larry Bird’s lousy band of slow-wings and felons has won 4-straight…unfortunately, those wins don’t count much in terms of quality as they’ve come against the Knicks, Bobcats, Wolves, and the Chicago Shitties. With Jeff Foster & David Harrison responsible for slowing down Tyson Chandler on the pick-n-roll, Peja matching Dunleavy on the 3-pt arc, Troy Murphy on Mr. West, and the Flip Murray/Travis Diener combo having no-chance against the best PG in the land, this one has road blow-out written all over it!...Hornets by 11-15 points