So without further ado, here's the Trail Blazers 2008 preseason schedule.
|Oct. 7||Sacramento||Rose Garden||Portland, OR||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 8||Golden State||Rose Garden||Portland, OR||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 10||Atlanta||Spring Center||Kansas City, MO||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 12||Utah||Rose Garden||Portland, OR||3 p.m.|
|Oct. 20||Sacramento||ARCO Arena||Sacramento||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 22||Clippers||Staple Center||Los Angeles||7:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 23||Utah||Energy Solutions Arena||Salt Lake City||7 p.m.|
The first thing I noticed was that we drew quite a few teams who have gone through significant changes in the offseason, which, in my opinion, adds some excitement to games that at times can be a tad bit tedious.
First game is against Sacramento, now in full-blow rebuilding mode with the trade of Ron Artest. Is any team in the league going to have a bigger change of personality than the Kings without Ron-Ron? Kevin Martin is still a soon-to-be superstar, Beno Udrih is a nice (though not MLE worthy) point guard, Spencer Hawes and Fransisco Garcia can ball, but who strikes fear into the hearts of the Kings' opposition? No one, that's who. This team, for better or worse, has no identity with the departure of Artest.
Then there's game two against the now Baron Davis-less Warriors. Golden State still has dynamic personalities in Don Nelson and Stephen Jackson, but the transition into the Monta Ellis era in Oakland is going to be rough, at least at first. Can you really replace B-Diddy? Is Nelson's heart still into coaching? How fast can Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf, Marcus Williams and Anthony Randolph integrate into a system unlike any other in the NBA? That, my friends, is going to be interesting.
Then it's on to Kansas City (the Missouri version) to take on the Atlanta Hawks. Will Josh Smith reside in the ATL come October? Is this the year Marvin Williams puts it together? Does Mike Bibby still have anything left in the tank? Will Josh Childress be eating dolmas and sipping ouzo on a beach in Corfu? At present time, we only know the answer to one of those questions.
By the way, it's a nice touch to play this one in K.C. Teams should meet in the middle of the country more often. Unless, of course, those teams play in warm weather climates. I'm not swapping a road trip to Miami for a visit to Wichita.
Then it's Utah at the Rose Garden. Same old Jazz: Physical, dependable and utterly surprised every time a foul is called. Beside the additions of Brevin Knight and rookie Kosta Koufos, this is the same Utah squad you've come to know and despise. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer will probably be fresh off a plane from Beijing by time this one rolls around in mid-October, so I doubt we'll see much of those two.
After week long break it's off to Sacramento for another go round with the Kings. We'll get a chance to see if the folks in California's capital have taken care of that rat/hobo in the theater problem. My money is on more of the same.
Next stop: Los Angeles to take on the new-look Clippers. No Brand or Maggette, but more Davis' (be it the Baron or Ricky variety) and Marcus Camby. Again, we're talking about a serious change in personnel and playing style. They could be great; they could be terrible. The history of the Clippers franchise would indicate the latter as the most likely outcome, but they do possess a lot of talent, at least on paper.
Finally, the preseason ends with another game against the Jazz, this time in SLC. It's also the second night of a back-to-back, so don't expect to see the best the Blazers have to offer in that one.
So with the exception of the Jazz, you're looking at four opponents with a ton of changes. The Blazers have quite a few unknowns as well, so if you ask me, it's shaping up to be a rather exciting preseason. And how often do you get to say that?