Tomorrow the Trail Blazers will host the Brooklyn Nets in Portland. The Blazers have had an impressive season as of late while the Nets are becoming quickly respected for their strong offence; a recent (and easy) win against the Bobcats being a testament to their well-oiled and aggressive line. Indeed, the same may be said about the Trail Blazers and their ability to match some of the top-rated offences in the NBA; an example of this seen in their victory over the Rockets. So, the match this Thursday can be viewed as a battle of intent, but there may be a bit more to it than that.
The Nets: Forward Momentum
If we look at the upcoming match from the point of view of the Nets, the name of the game will be momentum and continuity. As they have won the majority of their matches in January and February, they will be likely looking to capitalise on such a trend and continue. Well-known scorers such as Deron Williams, Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic will certainly lead the pack against the defence of the Trail Blazers. However, there may be a slight danger in relying too much upon offence alone, as the defence of the Blazers is anything but solid. So, it is likely that Portland will look to use their home-court advantage and purposely smother the Nets. Should the Nets realise this and be able to be able to put together a viable defensive posture, they may be able to thwart any such attempt and place themselves in an opportunity to allow scorers such as Williams to obtain value rebounds.
Trail Blazers: Offence Alone?
History does not lie. The Trail Blazers have kept their opponents’ scores under 100 points no fewer than 14 times this season. Each time this occurred, they emerged victorious. Unsurprisingly, these were the very same games when their offence proved indomitable. Indeed, the Blazers currently have a rather dismal defence; ranking approximately twentieth in efficiency. Although modifications will undoubtedly need to be made, their recent victory over the rockets proves a clear point: a win against the Nets will correlate directly with their offensive strategy.
Of course, this is easier said than done when up against a team with an equally formidable and aggressive line. Analysts feel that when playing opposite the Nets, a “sink or swim” approach needs to be taken. In other words, the coaches must simply rely on a strong offensive stance and pray that the Nets are not at the top of their game. With powerful scorers like Williams and Teletovic, this is a tough order at best.
With all things being equal, many feel that the Nets will emerge victorious. This has less to do with a necessarily better offence and more to do with the fact that their defence (when it is required) is not viewed to have as many human holes as that of the Trail Blazers. It will be very interesting to see if these predictions prove to be correct in a handful of days ahead.