Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Preseason Game 1 Preview: Trail Blazers at Lakers

10/10/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen

    The air is getting colder and the leaves are changing which means that another NBA season is just around the corner. On Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers will kick off their preseason in Ontario, CA against the revamped Los Angeles Lakers (0-1 preseason). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM on CSNNW and 1190 KEX.
        
    Wednesday will provide the first look at the new Trail Blazers who have changed so very much since the end of last season. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard will get his first chance to start alongside All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Head coach Terry Stotts said Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and JJ Hickson will also be in the starting lineup on Wednesday. This will also be Stotts’ first game as head coach of the Trail Blazers.
        
    The Lakers had what was undoubtedly the NBA’s most noisy offseason, having traded for perennial All-Star-yet-aging point guard Steve Nash from Phoenix, as well as acquiring the NBA’s best center in Dwight Howard.  Howard, however, will not suit up for Wednesday's game as he is still recovering from back surgery, though he was recently cleared for contact.  Howard missed LA's first preseason game, a loss to Golden State on Sunday, and no starters played more than 20 minutes. 
        
    Despite the fact that the final score won’t mean much in the long run, Wednesday's tilt is still a great opportunity to see where players are at individually and how well they are playing together as a unit. Winning, however, is always nice.

    Along with the intrigue about rookie point guard Damian Lillard, there quite a few interesting questions we may work our way towards answering on Wednesday night.

    Rookie center Meyers Leonard will see his first action against a real NBA team, which will also be the case for rookies Joel Freeland, Victor Claver. They will not be joined by fellow rookie Will Barton, who did not travel with the team due to a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice for almost a week.

    Seeing how Hickson plays as the starting center will be important for the Trail Blazers and their staff moving forward. Leonard, Freeland and possibly even Jared Jeffries should get time at center in the preseason alongside Aldridge, though perhaps not all in this game. Who will start at center on Oct. 31 is still to be decided, with the preseason schedule being key in deciding who will line-up against Dwight Howard on opening night.

    This will also be the first look of new acquisitions Ronnie Price and Sasha Pavlovic in a Trail Blazers uniform.  Training camp invitee Adam Morrison will have the opportunity to play against his former team where he was a part of two NBA championship runs.  Not to mention that a good performance would help his chances of making the Trail Blazers’ roster.
        
    Wednesday will be an opportunity for Rip City to finally see their new Trail Blazers. There is a new offensive and defensive philosophy and, new players learning how to work together and a number of rookies players adjusting to the NBA game for the first time. It will be entertaining to be sure and will be a very important first step in the development of this new team. Also, Coach Stotts has already stated he will use the preseason to try a variety of different line-ups.
        
    Coach Stotts told CSNNW.com that his team is “ready for the lights to be on.”
        
    So are we.






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