In order to get a bit more insight on the current state of affairs of tonight’s opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, we spoke to Blazer’s Edge staff writer Adrian Bernecich.
You can follow Adrian on Twitter @abernecich.
Thank you Adrian for participating in our Q&A.
You can check Darren Yuvan’s answers to their questions here.
1. Portland has started the year off 5-7. Is that record reflective of how the team has performed so far this season?
There has never been a record that has better a reflected a 12-game stretch. The Blazers are the ultimate bipolar basketball organism. At home and save for opening night against the Sacramento Kings, the Blazers have been solid on both sides of the ball, a far cry from last season’s second-worst defensive rating. Away from home, the word lacklustre comes to mind. The Portland front office is hoping to show Damian Lillard that his best chance at a title is in the Pacific Northwest. They’re not doing a great job three and a half weeks in, but it’s still November. But Lillard himself is quandary, barely able to hit a shot for a large part of those 12 games. Let’s hope it’s an anomaly.
Clearly Chauncey Billups is still integrating his game plan and the players consequently look a bit lost at times. Let’s see how it plays out because a lot can happen in 70 games.
2. Robert Covington and Ben McLemore were Rockets a year ago, and they’ve swapped shades of red since. How are both of those guys looking at the beginning of the season?
Ben McLemore is not a rotation player, sitting roughly 12th in the Portland pecking order. He’ll be called upon when injuries happen or when rest is needed but as we stand he’s behind Dennis Smith Jr. and Tony Snell. He was clearly brought in for reserve shooting but the Blazers have been relatively unscathed, thus far. Touch wood.
Like last season, Covington started slow, but over the past week he’s definitely been one of the brighter sparks for the Blazers, particularly against the Indiana Pacers a week ago. Covington hit five of 10 from three, including a couple of daggers sealing the win for a team desperate to get back on the winners list.
He’s also been more eager to get the rim in recent games, which is something we saw less of a season ago. As always, he’s been a solid help defender but even Covington struggles to make a difference when team defensive schemes break down or are not executed as designed.
3. Portland is favored by 6 points tonight by Las Vegas. Is that a fair assessment? If Portland loses, why would that be the case?
Depends on which Portland shows up. On paper, Portland should win this and win this easily. But this is not the Moda Center so who knows. Having said that, if the Blazers are going to get their first road win, it’s going to be in East Texas. If this team loses, this team is allowing Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green and Christian Wood do whatever they want, because defense is optional. Oh and Damian Lillard still isn’t hitting his shots.
4. What is one thing that Rockets fans should know about the Blazers that they wouldn’t find in a box score?
Anfernee Simons has arrived, he is the future and he will contend for a sixth man award this year.
5. What is your prediction for the game?
Honestly, I think the Blazers break their road-game cherry against the Rockets. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the young Rockets squad turn it up and turn some heads.