What’s up with the Portland Trail Blazers?
This season has been a long, challenging one for the Portland Trail Blazers. They’ve been used to long, challenging seasons before, but at least in those times they had Damian Lillard to tell them what time it is. No Dame this time. No more CJ McCollum, too. Add to that the injury to Jusuf Nurkic and what the Blazers have is a problem.
It’s not over though. Despite having to rely on Keljin Blevins and Keon Johnson as starters, the Blazers still have a chance of sliding into the play-in tournament. It might take a lot to knock off the unpredictable Los Angeles Lakers and the streaking New Orleans Pelicans, but weirder things have happened.
What’s up with the Minnesota Timberwolves?
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been up-and-down all season, never quite finding the groove that would push them up to elite level in the Western Conference. They’re at the bottom tier of the playoff rankings, which is still impressive considering they’ve battled with inconsistencies and injuries all season long.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been the steady force for the Wolves. Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell do their part once in a while to form a beta version of a Big 3, but it’s their other weapons that have kept them afloat—guys like Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and Jaylen Nowell.
Storyline to watch out for
These two teams just played a few days ago and saw the Wolves taking control in the second half. They did it without Anthony Edwards, who’s been dealing with a knee issue. The Blazers will look to avenge that loss. To do that though, Anfernee Simons will have to replicate his 38-point performance—or even surpass it—for the Blazers to have a chance in the endgame.
Unless Trendon Watford and Brandon Williams provide the spark off the Blazers’ bench again, the Wolves will look to dominate right out of the gates. The Blazers are just too undermanned at this point and the Wolves are too overachieving.