If the Raptors are one of the feel-bad stories of this season, the scrappy Portland Trail Blazers have to be considered one of the feel-good stories of the 2010-11 NBA season. Despite the tragic flame-out of Greg Oden and the arguably even more tragic breakdown of Brandon Roy, they remain in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference thanks to surprising performances from LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews. You’ll recall that Aldridge was the guy the Raptors passed over to draft Andrea Bargnani in the 2006 draft because they wanted a “real center” to play next to Bosh. Matthews was an undrafted player who showed some intriguing skills as a rookie sixth man with the Jazz last season and is now arguably the second best player on the Western Conference’s current eighth seed.
The Blazers are the reason I roll my eyes when some Raptors fans claim injuries are to blame for their team’s misfortune this season. Teams with talent, depth and good coaching can persevere through injuries. The Raptors weren’t going to make the playoffs this season even if every single player on the roster was healthy for the entire season.
Toronto: Amir Johnson will miss his first game of the season with a sprained ankle. I guess we should have seen this coming from this picture Holly posted yesterday.
Portland: Aside from the injuries you know about (Roy, Oden, Camby), some dude named Dante Cunningham who has inexplicably played 991 minutes this season is listed as probable with a busted-up eye socket.
1. If Ed Davis gets the start, how will he perform guarding one of the hottest players in the league right now, LaMarcus Aldridge?
2. Should the Raptors have tried to trade for Rudy Fernandez while he was still disgruntled in Portland?
3. Do you think Sonny Weems realizes how much money he’s cost himself on his next contract with each passing game lately?
4. Shouldn’t a guy named Trey Johnson have made more than one three-pointer in 73 minutes this season?
5. Does anyone else make sure to trade for Joel Przybilla anytime they play franchise mode in any NBA video game? Just me? OK.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Ed Davis, Andrea Bargnani
Portland: Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla
Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team anymore, so I’ll use Portland games as an excuse to drag out grunge songs from the ’90s that shaped my young adulthood. Tonight, I’m going to go with Nirvana’s “Very Ape”, which features one of my favorite rock song lyrics ever: “If you ever need anything please don’t hesitiate to ask someone else first.”