The Washington Wizards' west-coast road trip continues as they travel to Portland to meet the Trail Blazers. In case you've forgotten, Washington notched its first win of the season against Portland. Since the playoffs are probably out of the question this year, Washington needs to play for pride. Adding a clean sweep of another team, no matter what conference it's in or how good it is, would definitely be nice.
Where and When? Tip off is at 10 p.m. in Portland.
Are They Good? Yes, although not as good as their record. Portland has been the beneficiary of a hot start from Damian Lillard, unusually good health (rookie big man Meyers Leonard is the only major player to miss significant time this season) and quite a bit of luck in close games.
Who's out? Meyers Leonard is questionable for Portland, while Elliot Williams is out. Washington will be without Cartier Martin.
Why Should I Care? Because Washington might actually sweep a season series.
What Are They Good At? Shooting. Portland has capable shooters at four positions, something that has combined with the dribble penetration of Lillard and inside scoring of J.J. Hickson to give Portland a decent offense. This is in spite of Lillard and Aldridge being the only players on the team who can effectively create plays with the ball in their hands.
What Are They Bad At? Portland has the NBA's 22nd-best defense, largely due to the team's lack of a reliable interior defensive presence. They're also vulnerable to good point guards, as Lillard is still taking his rookie lumps and isn't particularly athletic.
Is it "Trail Blazers" or "Trailblazers"? Apparently the former.
Was the Nicolas Batum Deal a Mistake? Batum found himself in the of a bidding war between Portland and Minnesota last summer and came out of it with a four-year, $46 million maximum contract. Already a good shooter and finisher around the basket, Batum has added a new wrinkle to his game this year as the fifth year wing is posting a career-best assist ratio while racking up four dimes per 36 minutes this season. While Batum has drawn a great deal of praise for his defense, his ability to function as a high-efficiency scorer and distributor might wind up making him far more valuable than his defense ever could.
Who's Going to Win Tonight? As I mentioned on Press Row last week, I think that Washington has a better shot at getting a win against Portland than against any of the other teams they face on their current road trip. Portland is good at home and will certainly want to avenge their loss, but I think that Wall's size and speed will overwhelm Lillard while Washington's length will bother the shooting of Portland's numerous snipers. The key to the game will likely be how well Washington and Okafor in particular bothers Aldridge's jump shooting.
More coverage: Vist Blazers Edge.
Who do you think will win tonight? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments with your predictions!