Friday, October 10, 2008

In preview: Hawks vs. Trail Blazers


In one of those strange twists that only arise during the preseason, the Portland Trail Blazers (1-1) play host to the Atlanta Hawks (2-0) in ... Kansas City, MO. Maybe the league decided to host the game in Kansas City because it's a rough midway point (though significantly closer to Atlanta) or maybe it's because the Sprint Center is a new upscale arena (tonight's game will be the first NBA game ever played in the venue). Whatever the reason, the Trail Blazers are the designated home team, which, along with general manager Kevin Pritchard's history in Kansas City, might tip the scales fan-wise toward Portland.

The Trail Blazers are coming off a turnover-laced 110-95 loss to the Golden State Warriors, while the Hawks enter tonight's contest having beaten the Suns 100-96 in Phoenix.

Head coach Nate McMillan intended on giving at least one of his regular starters the night off, but injuries to Martell Webster (foot), Steve Blake (hamstring), Rudy Fernandez (ankle), Channing Frye (ankle) and Joel Przybilla (bronchitis) leaves McMillan in the unenviable position of potentially having to play his regulars for extended minutes just to field a team.

Portland has faced Atlanta once in the preseason in its 39-year history, a 102-89 win in 2007. The Trail Blazers have won five of the last seven preseason games against Eastern Conference teams dating back to 2004.

The Trail Blazers went 2-0 against Atlanta last season, going into overtime once and having a combined margin of victory of just three points.

Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific.

Probable Starters


Marvin Williams, SF
Josh Smith, PF
Al Horford, C
Joe Johnson, SG
Mike Bibby, PG


Travis Outlaw, SF
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF
Greg Oden, C
Brandon Roy, G
Sergio Rodriguez, PG

Matchup of the Night

For the night's featured matchup we look to the shooting guards. Joe Johnson and Brandon Roy bring similar skills to the table (as noted in his comparison) though they utilize those skills in different ways. Johnson tends to focus more on scoring, relying on his steady jumper for the bulk of his points. Roy, while an effective scorer in his own right, tends to act as more of a distributor, often initiating the offense toward the end of games.

Pulling Quotes

Marvin Williams prepared to be target for Hawks, Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
With five returning starters from a playoff team, someone has to be the target of opposing teams.

Someone has to be identified as the weakest link, the one player on the Hawks’ roster who can be attacked — physically and perhaps even schematically — in the hope that he will break down and the entire team will falter.

Wednesday night in Phoenix the Suns targeted Hawks small forward Marvin Williams. And Williams made them pay, outlasting the rest of the starters on both teams in the final minutes with plays that helped the Hawks secure the 100-96 victory.

Williams finished with a team-high 19 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and a body full of sore muscles courtesy of the pounding he took from Suns reserve power forward Louis Amundson, who spent most of his night trying to get under Williams’ skin.

“I don’t know if that was the case, and I don’t feel like they were trying to hurt me or anything,” Williams said. “I used to play football, man, so nobody in this league is going to hurt me. Physically I’m not worried about getting beat up out here.

Broadcast Information

No television for tonight's game, or any of the remaining preseason contests. Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will have the call on the radio side on the Trail Blazers Radio Network.

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