The Blazers won the first meeting between those two teams on Nov.18 at the Continental Airlines Arena by 18 points. The Nets shot 33 percent from the field (23-of-69) in that game and had no energy whatsoever. Tonight its going to be different as the teams know each other pretty well now, and the Nets are feeling violated.
The Blazers are difficult team to play against mainly because many teams don't respect them. New Jersey did just that last week and got burned. The Blazers, however, have lost the magic that carried them to a quick 4-1 start. They have lost five of their last six games and have big problems with consistency. The play of the Blazers still feels like a one-man campaign against its opponent - Zach Randolph is playing really well but he’s not getting a whole lot of quality help.
The Nets at the same time want to reclaim their pride after the 18-point loss in their home floor. They are in no position to take any team lightly, not after providing Portland with its only win in 6 games. Tonight the Nets should be able to dominate the flow of the game... especially offensively Vince Carter should have his way with the Blazers. With Richard Jefferson back from an ankle injury, Carter doesn’t have to stand as the lone scoring option, which should help as well.
Tonight’s game is not going to be given to Portland. We expect the trio of Kidd, Carter and Jefferson to come out strong and simply find a way to win. This time they don’t have to fight through fatigue on defense, which means the Blazers can only dream about shooting 47% from the field once again. And even if Portland figures out how to produce enough offense, they can’t overcome Carter and Jefferson in the defensive end. The Jazz are better than they were last time, so we take the away team with medium (+) stakes.
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