4 - 3 Portland @ 2 - 6 Philadelphia

Portland just did not compete against Denver. One suspects they will be a little more prepared in Philadelphia. And even though it is a weak Philadelphia team, this is a key game for the Blazers season.

Coming in, people will no doubt make much of their 0-4 road record. But look at who those teams have been and how Portland has played them: San Antonio, Portland had a shot at winning. Charlotte, they started slow but made a run. Against Houston and Denver they pretty much laid down. Still, those are 4 tough places to win and their performance against 2 of them was very respectable.

Portland is a much better team than Philadelphia and should win. If they do not, for whatever reason, then the road struggles will become a thousand pound gorilla and they will struggle on the road for the rest of the season. Conversely, if they they should...then that will build their confidence and lead to a few road wins this season, which they will need to reach their post-season berth which I expect for them.

Philadelphia, like Portland, is a young team. Philadelphia, unlike Portland, lacks the talent to go places, and Philadelphia plays in the weak Eastern Conference. They try to mask this by slowing the game down and minimizing the number of possessions to hide the talent discrepancy.

Starting Line-ups
Frye is coming off his season high. He will continue to get 4 - 6 points a night, then give way to the defense and rebounding of Przybilla. Samuel Dalembert is no stud, but he will have a slight advantage over Frye, scoring wise.

Aldridge had an off night against Denver and still shot almost 50% and went for 15 and 9. Philadelphia apparently plays a small line-up. I cannot even figure out who their power forward is. As near as I can tell they start Iguodala, Andre Miller, Willie Green, and Kyle Korver alongside Dalembert, with Reggie Evans logging heavy minutes. Of those, Evans is the monster at 6'8". The others are 6'6", 6'2", 6'3", and 6'6" respectively. Only 7'0" Jason Smith is hitting about 17 minutes a game and his statistical contribution is negligible, 5 points and 3 boards.

Meanwhile, Portland has more size across the board and more talent across the board. The Sixers will struggle to score and to keep up with Portland on the boards, a rare luxury for Portland who usually gets outrebounded.

This is one of those rare nights where if Portland plays an average game, they win by a lot. If they implode, they should still win, just it will be close. They are that much better than the 76ers.

Portland by 10+

Denver 100, Portland 93

For Portland to win they need Webster to come out of his slump, Aldridge to have a monster game, Jack to continue his outstanding run of bench play, and Anthony and Iverson to have poor shooting games. If that happens, they will win. Otherwise, this could be a blow-out the other way. Portland has the talent to win any game on their schedule, the question is whether they have figured that out yet. I would not be surprised to see a Portland win...but I don't expect it.Denver by 8+ points

Webster: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4-10 shooting.
Aldridge: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 - 11 shooting, 5-9 free throws

Portland came out slow...they looked like they were moving at shoot-around speed or running half-speed. There was no energy. Sparked by an offensive explosion by Channing Frye...a season-high tying 8 points...they stayed close for a while and were only down by 5, but anyone could tell that barring a burst of energy they were going nowhere all night.

The Blazers never looked interested and could not buy a bucket. Coming into the night they had the 4th highest field goal percentage in the league. That will drop a bit after their 39% effort.

This is the first time I have seen this Blazers team not compete. Some rumored statements I heard indicated they were awed by Iverson and Anthony. This is unfortunate. They have played, and played well, against better players than either of those. I would rather have Duncan than Anthony, Paul than Iverson...actually, Iverson is another guy like Marbury or Francis. If he were a Blazer I would not be a fan of the team.

Meanwhile, Denver proved to be a pretty classless team. K-mart and Camby both delivered head-shots with their elbows and then yapped about it. Portland got into a complaining mode and even Aldridge went after Camby at one point.

Win or lose, this is a trend I hope ends. Portland has been real good about not complaining and about just having fun playing a great game. On a night where they just were not into it and their shots weren't falling, they momentarily deteriorated into a complaining team looking to the officials to bail them out. Hopefully McMillan jumps all over that and gets them back on track.

Portland showed early on they could play with Denver. Expect them to do much better on their next trip. For now, it is a disappointing game, but just one loss. Expect them to get it together and win out on this road trip.