76ers-Trail Blazers Preview
Even with a relatively healthy roster, the Portland Trail
Blazers couldn’t beat the Philadelphia 76ers last season, and they
didn’t even have to contend with Allen Iverson.
Boasting an impressive four-game winning streak, the Trail
Blazers look to avoid their third straight loss to the 76ers, who
hope to have Iverson back Monday night.
Portland’s run includes victories over Denver, San Antonio,
Dallas and Miami, even as it deals with many injuries, and the team
has every reason to feel confident heading into a matchup with
lowly Philadelphia (7-22).
But the Blazers (20-12) went 0-2 against the 76ers last season
and have lost four of the last five meetings. Philadelphia also
expects Iverson to return after missing four straight games with
knee and shoulder problems.
The 34-year-old Iverson is averaging 15.6 points in five games
with Philadelphia since parting ways with Memphis. He’s averaging
11.5 points and shooting 28.6 percent in his last two games versus
Portland has had plenty of injury issues of its own. The Blazers
beat the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets 107-96 on Friday night,
getting 41 points from Brandon Roy even though he was wearing a
thin brace to protect his sore left shoulder.
Roy, who missed Wednesday night’s win at San Antonio, made a
career-high 16 field goals. He has scored 23 points or more in 12
straight games, the longest active streak of 20-plus games in the
Roy has helped Portland overcome injuries to center Greg Oden
(left knee), forwards Nicolas Batum (shoulder), Travis Outlaw (left
foot) and Rudy Fernandez (back), and rookies Patrick Mills (right
foot) and Jeff Pendergraph (hip). Center Joel Przybilla, meanwhile,
underwent season-ending right knee surgery Thursday.
Still, the Blazers have won 10 of their last 12 home games and
six of seven overall.
“It’s been coming together,” forward LaMarcus Aldridge said.
“We’ve been playing really solid basketball.”
The Blazers have 45 assists and 19 turnovers over their last two
games. They’re 16 for 32 from 3-point range during that span.
“This team is playing basketball the right way,” coach Nate
McMillan said. “They’re playing together, and they’re playing 48
Blazers point guard Andre Miller has turned the ball over twice
in his last four contests. He was part of a trade three years ago
that ended Iverson’s first stint with the 76ers, getting dealt from
Denver. The Nuggets traded Iverson to Detroit in November 2008, and
he was signed as a free agent with Memphis this past offseason.
Iverson lasted three games there in part due to his inability to
accept a backup role. If Iverson returns for this contest, he’ll
likely start in the backcourt alongside Lou Williams, with rookie
Jrue Holiday and Willie Green as the primary backups.
Philadelphia could use the help, having lost three straight
heading into the third matchup on a six-game road trip. The Sixers
were held below 80 points for the first time in nearly eight weeks
and had a season-low 11 assists Saturday in a 97-76 loss to
“Share the ball and play some team defense and we’ll be fine,”
forward Elton Brand said.
Thaddeus Young was a bright spot for the Sixers, posting 20
points after being held to nine for the second time in three games
Tuesday night in a loss to Washington. He had 25 points in a
114-108 overtime victory over Portland on March 23, the last
meeting between the teams.