Lillard: Not Killing Myself Over Bad Shooting
Miami – “We're fine. We're not worried. We got three games left and you want to be above .500 on any road trip and we still have an opportunity to do that.”
That was Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews after they took a 118-103 thumping at the hands of the Houston Rockets last Friday.
He had every reason to think going into the All-Star break splitting this six-game trip was attainable due to the fact that the Orlando Magic (had lost 23 of its last 25 games and were on a 12-game losing streak) and New Orleans Hornets remained on the roadie.
But sandwiched between those two teams are the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. And if the Trail Blazers (25-26) didn't lose a 110-104 heartbreaker to the Magic on Monday night, Matthews and the team's plan to exit this trip .500 would have had a better chance to pan out.
That's not saying it won't happen as the Trail Blazers get set to take on the Heat tonight at American Airlines Arena, the first game of a back-to-back for the Trail Blazers. They're simply going to have to win tonight.
“Why wouldn't I think it's a winnable game?,” Damian Lillard asked CSNNW.com after we asked him that question. “The most I can say is it'll be really tough because of how well they are playing and how good of a team they are. But why would we come if we didn't think we had chance to win? We play in this league to compete, to try to win games. Of course we believe we have a chance to win the game.”
The Heat (34-14) have taken 10 of its last 12 games while holding down the best record in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention LeBron James, in a five-game stretch, has done some things on the court no one has seen before averaging 31 points, six assists, and shooting 71 percent in that span.
Nicolas Batum will have the assignment of trying to slow down James and when I asked him which way will he try to shade James, Batum just started laughing at me.
Nowadays, James is going wherever he wants. Bad question on my part.
At the conclusion of Batum's chuckle, he gathered himself and said: “You try to contain him. Stay between him and the basket and try to make him make some jump-shots or pass the ball. He's playing so good right now so I really don't know what I'll try to do. I'll try to deny him the ball, try to make him work, try to make him make bad choices.”
Batum mentioned that they were successful in limiting James' touches a couple of weeks ago when they held him to 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting in a shocking 92-90 victory over the Heat at the Rose Garden.
That was then, this is now. But the Trail Blazers have won four consecutive games in Miami. However, they are currently on a three-game losing streak.
Tonight's game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet at 4:30 p.m. and on 620 KPOJ AM radio.