Trail Blazers vs Bucks Tuesday, 03/19/13 AT 05:00PM

Trail Blazers Finish Trip's First Back-to-Back In Milwaukee

03/19/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Trail Blazers (31-35) continue their road trip Milwaukee with the end of their first of two back-to-backs on the trip. They face the Bucks (33-32) and will tip-off at 5PM. You can catch the game on CSNNW or it can be heard on 1190 AM or 102.3 FM.

        •    For the Trail Blazers, getting last night's tough loss out of their minds will be the most important. Despite a valiant effort that saw the Trail Blazers score eight points in the final 55 seconds, they missed their final opportunity to win the game on a LaMarcus Aldridge turnaround. The Bucks are a very dangerous team and despite the fact they have an interim head coach, they have been a solid team for most of the season. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have been playing extremely well as of late and that will certainly be the focal point of Portland's defensive game plan today. Ellis is coming off a 39-point effort on Sunday against the Magic and he is averaging over 26 points and shooting over 50 percent over his last 11 games. Ellis' backcourt mate Brandon Jennings is averaging 14.5 points and 10.3 assists over that same stretch. Also, the amount of games that J.J. Redick has played since being traded to Milwaukee is 11. Redick joins Mike Dunleavy to provide an explosive outside shooting attack.
      
     •    The Trail Blazers struggled for much of their game against Milwaukee on January 19th in Portland. The Trail Blazers struggled to get going offensively in the early going. The Trail Blazers were prone to long scoring droughts during the month of January and their game against Milwaukee found them struggle. The Bucks, behind Ersan Ilyasova (doubtful for tonight's game) and Brandon Jennings on offense and Larry Sanders' rim protection on defense, stymied Portland. The momentum in the game shifted drastically when Sanders was ejected in the third quarter. The Trail Blazers were able to make a big run in the fourth quarter and give themselves a chance to get within one possession. The Trail Blazers were down by as much as 22 points and got the Milwaukee lead down to four with 33.6 seconds left. Stotts went to the sideline out of bounds play we all know well by now to get the ball to Aldridge on the block. But as Batum through the pass the refs missed Epke Udoh step on Aldridge's right foot as he extended for the ball and that sealed Portland's chances to get the win.
     
      •    Obviously, the bad habit of allowing teams to shoot over 55 percent over their last five games is something that they need to avoid on the road. In Milwaukee, trying to get their guards out of rhythm while also containing their bigs on defense should be the first priority. The Trail Blazers offense can always get it going, but as we saw just last night, giving teams,  especially home teams, early confidence in their offense can give them confidence to hit even tougher shots when the defense tries to tighten up. The last thing you want to do is give the hot Monta Ellis going, or Sanders to get easy buckets at the rim like he did in Portland. The three-point line will also be a concern with Jennings, Redick and Dunleavy all capable of getting hot.
     
      •    LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have a great opportunity to stay hot. The Bucks are not the same defensive team as they were earlier in the season. Lillard is averaging 23.7 points and 7 assists per game in March and scored 27 points, dished seven assists and grabbed seven rebounds in Philadelphia last night in a tough match-up against Jrue Holiday. Aldridge scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and has been on a tear the last four games. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week is averaging 28.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and three assists on 53 percent shooting. Without Ilyasova, the Bucks will be a little bit softer in the middle even if they have the league's leader in block shots, Larry Sanders, protecting the rim. Either way, tonight should be a fun up and down affair, certainly a great way to enjoy a light , four-game Tuesday night in the NBA.

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