One of the better Power Forward match-ups in NBA, Lamarcus Aldridge vs. Josh Smith. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Atlanta Hawks vs. Portland Trail Blazers Game Day Preview

Who?: Atlanta Hawks (19-11) vs. Portland TrailBlazers (16-15)

When?: February 18th, 2012; 10:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: Rose Garden (Portland, Oregon)

How?: SportSouth HD (TV), NBATV (TV) & 680 AM (93.7 radio)

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan Site, AJC Blog, Peachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)

The Opposing Team’s Blogs : Rip City Project (FanSided), Blazers Edge (SB Nation), The Portland RoundBall Society (TrueHoop)

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Projected Starting Lineups:

Atlanta Hawks:

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Joe Johnson | C: Al Horford | PF: Josh Smith | SF: Marvin Williams

Portland TrailBlazers:

PG: Raymond Felton | SG: Wesley Matthews | C: Marcus Camby | PF: Lamarcus Aldridge | SF: Gerald Wallace

*Raymond Felton may be replaced by Jamal Crawford. Felton has been struggling lately (all season really), so talks of Jamal Crawford replacing him at Point Guard has been brought up.

**Lamarcus Aldridge is a game-time decision with a left ankle injury. If he’s unable to go, Nicolas Batum will probably be inserted at Small Forward and Gerald Wallace will be moved up to Power Forward.

Injury Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery) and Jason Collins (sprained left elbow) are out.

Portland: Greg Oden (left knee) is out. Lamarcus Aldridge (left ankle) is game time decision.

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Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold:

Records: The Atlanta Hawks are (19-11) and the Portland TrailBlazers are (16-15).

Against .500+ teams: The Hawks are (5-10) and the Blazers are (7-10)

Streak: The Hawks are riding a 1 game winning streak, and the Blazers are on a 1 game losing streak.

Away/Home: The Hawks are (10-6) on the road, and the Blazers are (11-5) at home.

Atlanta Hawks- Lukewarm. The Hawks are riding a win streak right now, but it was against the Phoenix Suns. Before that win, they lost two in a row against two formidable teams, the Lakers & Heat. A win tonight would certainly make them “hot” though.

Portland TrailBlazers- Cold. They’ve lost 3 out of their last 4 games (5 out of their last 7 games), and they are riding a four game losing streak at home.

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Season/Past Season Series:

This will be second and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Hawks won the first match-up in Atlanta, winning by three 3, 92-89. Joe Johnson led the way that night scoring 24 points. Josh Smith also chipped in with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Jamal Crawford and Lamarcus Aldridge tallied 22 and 20 points that night as well.

The Hawks have a six game winning streak against the Blazers. The last time the Blazers won was on February of 2009 in Portland.

Tonight’s game will also mark the 100th time these two teams have faced each other. The Hawks currently lead the series 50-49 right now. However, the Hawks are only 17-39 when it’s played in Portland.

Game Preview:

I know the Hawks have won six straight against the Blazers, but it seems like every time I see them on the schedule, I can’t find the confidence to say that they will win the game. I’m not saying I picked the Hawks would lose in every game, but I couldn’t flat out and guarantee that they would win. Nothing has changed tonight, I still can’t guarantee the Hawks will win…

Which is weird…because there’s many reasons why I should pick the Hawks.

  1. The Blazers aren’t playing well at home right now (4 straight losses at home).
  2. Lamarcus Aldridge may not play.
  3. The Atlanta Hawks are real solid on the road this season (10-6).
  4. They’re having trouble in the point guard position (Raymond Felton having a subpar season).
  5. The Hawks have won six straight against the Blazers (like I said earlier).
But I just can’t. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t have enough faith or trust for the Hawks, or if it’s because I have that much respect for the Blazers (it’s probably a little bit of both), but I just can’t guarantee a win like I can when the Hawks face a team like the Wizards (no offense to their team…).
Nonetheless, I’ll just sit back and enjoy this one like have in the past, and just hope that the Hawks continue their streak against the Blazers.

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3 Things I’m Looking Out For:

  • Josh Smith vs Lamarcus Aldridge.  This is one of my favorite match-ups Josh Smith faces every season. I can never guess who wins the match-up between the two. Lamarcus Aldridge has had the better stat line in the past few match-ups, but from a career head-to-head match-up, it’s a toss up on who I would take. Of course, this match-up may not even happen as Aldridge is questionable heading into this game….but if it does, I’ll surely enjoy it.
  • Joe Johnson. Joe Johnson’s play against the Suns on Wednesday was to say the least, underwhelming. He scored a season low 6 points in 36 minutes of play. Not the kind of contribution you’re looking for in your All-star and #1 paid guy. He’s actually had a pretty bad month so far. In the month of February, he’s only averaging 13.8 ppg and shooting 38% from the field. You have to think that his numbers will rise up tonight though as Joe seemingly seems to play big whenever playing the TrailBlazers….and no offense to Jamal Crawford (still a fan of him by the way), he’s not exactly an elite defender. Wesley Matthews is better than Jamal on defense, but he also lacks the size to really slow down Joe Johnson. Expect a pretty big night from the lone Hawks’ All-star tonight.
  • Sense of urgency/effort level. I try to avoid putting this as something to watch out for, but I think it’s fitting for tonight. The Blazers are a good home team, and they always look to win one for their fans, so I really think that the Blazers will come into this game motivated and with high sense of urgency. The Hawks? Well, we know how their starts can be like at times….slow. The Hawks are coming into this game with two days of rest, so energy and effort shouldn’t be a problem for them. If the effort isn’t there for the Hawks, you can bet that a Nate McMillan team playing at home will take full advantage of that.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Game Preview Jamal Crawford Josh Smith Lamarcus Aldridge Portland TrailBlazers Raymond Felton