18-12 Portland at 16-16 Utah

Portland has beaten Utah twice in the last 13 games...both times without LaMarcus Aldridge. Tonight they will have another obstacle...Coach McMillan will not be at the game. If I thought he would ever read a humble piece like this I would extend my condolences to him. Tough time of year for something like that.

With that said, a lot of people expect Portland to win this game. They are red hot and Utah is ice cold, having lost 2 straight and just 3-11 in the last 14 games. In addition, Utah is a team in disarray. They traded Giricek for Kyle Korver after the latest blow-up between Sloan and a player. That is a help to Portland as it removes another zone-busting shooter from the Jazz line-up.

But it does not solve a couple of their other problems. First off, Carlos Boozer feasts on the Blazers...he is a beast inside. He seems to have his way, scoring and rebounding almost at will. Unfortunately for Portland, Aldridge is struggling a lot right now, so an already bad match-up gets worse. Deron Williams is the tough type of point guard for Portland as he is excellent at penetrating at will, creating havoc for the Blazers' zone.

If Roy continues his outstanding play, Webster, Jones, and Outlaw are all hitting their shots, and Aldridge snaps out of his funk the Blazers will hit 14. I think it somewhat more likely that they will find that all good things come to an end as Utah remembers they are Utah and regains their winning ways. I really hope not, I seriously dislike them, but this has all the earmarks of one of those games where Portland ends one run...but they will win many more this season.

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