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Wizards Vs. Blazers Preview: Meet LaMarcus Aldridge And His Jekyll And Hyde Teammates

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The Portland Trail Blazers are 15-13 this season. Their point differential in their 14 home games is +13.4. Their point differential in their 14 road games is -2.6.

(checks where tonight's game is being played).


Are they good in general?: Despite their weird home/road split, they're overall pretty good and probably better than their record.

Are they good against the Wizards? They haven't played the Wizards this season. Last year, they beat the Wizards by 35 points in Portland. The last time they lost to the Wizards at home was in 2005. Their starting lineup for that game was Damon Stoudamire, Sebastian Telfair, Darius Miles, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Joel Przybilla.

Are they fast or slow? The Blazers have made a shocking transformation into a fast-paced team, as I wrote about extensively for earlier this year. However, because they have little experience playing that way, they're not all that great at actually converting with a fast pace. According to Synergy Sports, they're 25th in the league at points per possession on fast-break attempts.

Are they especially good at anything? This is an incredibly long and versatile defensive team, especially on the frontline with Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby. As such, they get their hands on a lot of passes and disrupt a lot of ball-handlers, which explains why they're third in the league in defensive turnover rate.

Are they especially bad at anything? They're not an especially good three-point shooting team. Gerald Wallace rarely shoots threes, and Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews have been mired in season-long shooting slumps.

Are there any people involved with the organization that Mike really likes? LaMarcus Aldridge is so subtly good.

Are there any people involved with the organization that Mike really doesn't like? I've always felt Felton was way too highly regarded. Save for a two-month stretch in New York, he's never demonstrated the production necessary to be a decent starting point guard. That Felton/Andre Miller swap keeps looking worse.

Are there any players poised for a breakout? Batum always seems on the cusp of something, but has yet to really put it together. He's still really young, though, and it can happen at any time.

Are there any players the Wizards especially need to worry about? So much of the Blazers' offense runs through Aldridge, and it's tough to really do much against him because he hits such tough shots. I could absolutely see Trevor Booker shoving Aldridge out to 17 feet, only to see him drop another looping turnaround shot. If you had to figure out a way to stop him, force him to the middle into the help. Wall in particular should (and will) sag off Felton to give Booker or whoever is guarding Aldridge some help in the middle. That may change with Jamal Crawford in the game, though.

Is their mascot cool? This thing's name is "Blaze." I don't get it either.

Any other random quirks: Two highlights (one good, one bad) from last year's game make for good watching.

For more Blazers coverage, visit Blazers Edge.