Game Night: Sixers @ Blazers

by Max Rappaport Writer

Saturday, January 4, 10:00PM (EST) at Moda Center, Portland, Oregon

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TV: The Comcast Network | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM

by Max Rappaport,
Posted: January 4, 2014

PORTLAND –– While most road trips in the NBA are sprints – with multiple games jam-packed into as short a timeframe as is logistically possible, the Sixers’ current trip more resembles a marathon.

Totaling 10 days, five games, and almost 7,000 round-trip air miles, it would be a daunting challenge for even the league’s most battle-tested teams. But after bouncing back from a December 28 loss to the Phoenix Suns that opened the trip, Philadelphia has won three straight, their best stretch since opening the season with a 3-0 record.

Saturday, the team closes out the road swing against the Western Conference leading Trail Blazers (26-7), who’ve lost just three games at Moda Center this season, all to teams currently slated to make the playoffs.

So What Makes The Blazers So Good?
Well, they can score
That’s a bit of an understatement… The 2013-14 Trail Blazers have put up historic numbers offensively, averaging more points per game (109.0) than any team since the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns, who scored just a shade over 110 points a night. In their last game, a 134-104 home win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday, Portland shot 58.1% from the floor and 21-of-33 from beyond the arc. 

Speaking of threes, they hit a lot of them
The Blazers are the only team in NBA history to average 10+ made threes per game while shooting over 40% from that range. The 2005-06 Suns were close, averaging 10.2 threes made per game on 39.9% from downtown. 

Oh, and there’s a guy named LaMarcus who’s pretty good
LaMarcus Aldridge came into 2013-14 fresh off a 21.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG campaign and his second consecutive All-Star appearance. The 28-year-old big man has taken his game to the next level this season, averaging career highs in points (23.2), rebounds (11.0), and assists (2.9), leading some to wonder whether Aldridge could be an MVP finalist by year’s end.

Trending Topics
Super Slash Brothers
The Phoenix Suns’ guard tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic have been called the Slash Brothers by some – a nod to their ability to get into the lane for easy points and an homage to Golden State’s duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who many call the Splash Brothers. Following Thursday night’s win over the Kings, some players in the Sixers’ locker room began to attach the Nintendo-inspired nickname to guards Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten.

"I heard that one from the fans during the game," Spencer Hawes said of the Slash Brothers moniker. "I like it. Let's keep playing this way, and maybe we'll hear it more."

The rookie/sophomore tandem rank first and third on the team in free-throw attempts per game, respectively – Evan Turner ranks second, at 4.5 per game. Carter-Williams scores 8.9 of his 17.2 points per game off of drives to the basket and free throws combined; he attempts 5.1 free throws per contest.

For Wroten, it accounts for 9.3 of his 13.9 points per game. Wroten, who averages 25.9 minutes per game for the Sixers, has attempted more free throws (127) this year than Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Jamal Crawford, Tim Duncan, Josh Smith, and Dwyane Wade, all of whom have logged more minutes this season. He averages 4.2 free-throw attempts per game.

Thaddeus Young’s Hot Streak Continues
It was another day and another big game for Thaddeus Young Thursday, as he totaled 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and six steals in a 113-104 win over theSacramento Kings. He’s notched 25+ points in five of his last six games and during that stretch has averaged 25.8 points (53.2 FG%, 52.0 3P%, 89.7 FT%), 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 3.0 steals per game.

Tale of the Tape

Category Sixers Trail Blazers

PPG Evan Turner – 19.6 LaMarcus Aldridge – 23.2

RPG Spencer Hawes – 8.8 LaMarcus Aldridge – 11.0

APG Michael Carter-Williams – 7.3 Damian Lillard – 6.0

SPG Michael Carter-Williams – 3.0 Nicolas Batum – 1.0

BPG Spencer Hawes – 1.5 Robin Lopez – 1.5