Nets begin long road trip against the scorching Blazers


Opponent: Portland Trail Blazers
Location: Moda Center (Portland)
Time: 10:00 PM EDT
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO app

It’s that time of year again! The circus has made its way to Brooklyn, and now the Nets will make a 20-day, nine-game road trip around the country. The Nets (15-41) ran into a hot Charlotte Hornets team Sunday, losing 104-96 in what was their last home game until March 13. Tonight, they’ll see an even hotter team in the Portland Trail Blazers.

After a 128-108 loss at home to the Golden State Warriors on January 8th, the Trailblazers fell to 15-24, good for the tenth best record in the Western Conference. Since then, Head Coach Terry Stotts’ team has won 14 of 17 games, including their last five straight. Now, the Trail Blazers (29-27) currently hold the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff standings.

Last Friday, the Trail Blazers got some payback from their earlier meeting, whooping the then 48-4 Golden State Warriors 137-105 in front of a sold-out crowd in Portland. Point guard Damian Lillard dropped 51 points (18-28 FGs) including 9-of-12 from three-point range, to go along with seven assists and six steals.

“I don’t know where to start?” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “It is an understatement that we played very well.”

On Sunday, the Blazers beat the Utah Jazz at home 115-111, led by C.J. McCollum’s 31 points and Lillard’s 30. Thanks to 24 second-chance points aided by 23 offensive rebounds (seven from Noah Vonleh), the Blazers were able to withstand the Jazz’s 50 percent shooting night. Maurice Harkless scored 17 off the bench to go along with seven rebounds (six offensive).

This will be the second and final meeting between the Nets and Blazers. On January 15th at Barclays Center, Lillard scored 33 points and dished out ten assists to lead the Blazers to a 116-104 win. The Nets were done in by a 17-2 Blazers run beginning with a little over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Lillard scored 11 points during the run and assisted on an Allen Crabbe three pointer. The Blazers bench outscored the Nets’ bench 46-28, led by Crabbe’s 19 points (5-of-6 3pt FGs).

What to watch for: Passing Plumlee. Ex-Net Mason Plumlee’s role with the Nets was pretty clear cut the past few years: Pick-and-rolls, finishing near the rim, rebounding. Plumlee’s success came when he stayed within the parameters of his capabilities, but this year he’s expanded his role with one of his not-so-hidden talents. Currently, Plumlee is averaging 2.7 assists in 25.5 minutes per game, ranking fifth among NBA centers with 5.1 assists per 48 minutes. He’s notched at least four assists in a game 19 times this season.

Plumlee’s 151 assists in 56 games this season is already more than the 134 assists he compiled in 152 games during his first two seasons in Brooklyn.