NBA basketball is back and better than ever. On opening night we have three games. One of the games I’ll be looking at is the division rivals of the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland came into last season with very low expectations. After losing most of their starting lineup, the Blazers surprised everyone and made a nice playoff run. The Blazers finished fourth in the Western Conference with a 44-38 record. They advanced to the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the Warriors. Minus Gerald Henderson, Portland pretty much kept the same roster as last year and added Evan Turner to their bench.
As for Utah, they barely missed the playoffs last season going 40-42 with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. The Jazz this past offseason made three nice veteran additions with George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson while retaining their core young players.
Projected lineup for Portland
- PG: Damian Lillard
- SG: C.J. McCollum
- SF: Maurice Harkless
- PF: Al-Farouq Aminu
- C: Mason Plumlee
- Key role players: Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, Noah Vonleh and Ed Davis
This is one of the more deeper rosters in the NBA. They were able to keep majority of their players from last year so they have the team chemistry to be successful.
Projected lineup for Utah
- PG: George Hill
- SG: Rodney Hood
- SF: Joe Johnson
- PF: Trey Lyles
- C: Rudy Gobert
- Key role players: Dante Exum, Boris Diaw, Shelvin Mack and Joe Ingles
The Utah Jazz will not have Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks tonight due to injury. When they are all healthy, this would also be one of the deepest rosters in the NBA.
Key matchup to watch
I’ll be looking at the backcourt battle between Lillard and McCollum vs. Hill and Hood. Damian Lillard will be the focal point tonight but McCollum has really blossomed in the past year. Hill was a steady point guard for a couple of seasons in Indiana and Hood has also quietly improved. All four of these guys can shoot the point so I can see these guys having a nice scoring battle.
This will be a tough battle between both teams. Portland and Utah are both young teams that will look to start the season off with a win. While the markets for both teams are smaller than most, these fans are passionate and it should be a fun game to watch.