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Preview: Trail Blazers (54-28) at Suns (48-34)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: October 30, 2013 10:00 PM EDT
  

Thirteen seasons have come and gone without the Portland Trail Blazers winning a playoff series, a drought that isn't lost on general manager Neil Olshey with the franchise coming off another disappointing campaign.

Portland, though, seemingly has the talent to contend in the loaded Western Conference this season unlike the rebuilding Phoenix Suns, who host Wednesday night's season opener.

The Trail Blazers have lost their last six postseason series since coming within one victory of the NBA Finals in 2000, and they missed the playoffs for the second straight year after ending last season on a 13-game losing streak to finish 33-49.

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Olshey saw some positives to build on, though. Damian Lillard was named the league's rookie of the year after averaging 19.0 points and leading the league in minutes played, while LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 21.1 points and a career-best 9.1 rebounds.

Lillard averaged 24.3 points and 5.7 assists in helping the Blazers go 2-1 against the Suns last season.

Portland also got solid seasons from Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, and it acquired center Robin Lopez from New Orleans in the offseason to be the starting center.

'Look, the West is incredibly deep, incredibly talented. A lot of the teams returning to the playoffs probably feel like they have a seed locked up. But we're going to do everything in our power to get back in,' Olshey said. 'I think we're talented enough, the way our core four players played last year, supported by the new additions, they're going to give us a great chance.'

Lopez averaged 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season, and Aldridge is looking forward to getting some help down low.

'I just want a big to play with,' Aldridge said. 'I feel like I can go to the next level playing alongside him because he's going to block shots. If he doesn't block it, I can come block it.'

Olshey also made it a point to shore up the Blazers' depth after they received an average of only 18.5 points off the bench, by far the worst in the league. He drafted C.J. McCollum with the 10th overall pick and signed veterans Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Dorell Wright. He also traded for Thomas Robinson, who was the fifth overall selection in the 2012 draft.

Though McCollum will be nursing a foot injury for at least the first few weeks, Williams plans to begin contributing immediately.

"I'm just going to be a problem (for opposing teams)," Williams told the team's official website. "I'm going to be on everybody's scouting report because I feel like that'll take pressure off of (Lillard) and (Aldridge)."

Phoenix, meanwhile, put more pressure on its young group - as well as first-year coach Jeff Hornacek - by trading veteran center Marcin Gortat to Washington on Friday for the injured Emeka Okafor and a protected first-round pick. The Suns also sent 2012 first-round pick Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee in the deal.

It marked the most recent of many moves by new general manager Ryan McDonough, who has made no secret of his plans to reshape a roster that went 25-57 - the franchise's worst record since its inaugural campaign of 1968-69.

McDonough traded Jared Dudley in a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee that landed young guard Eric Bledsoe on July 3, then dealt Luis Scola to Indiana for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a first-round pick later that month. He then bought out the troubled Michael Beasley in September.

Phoenix, which drafted big man Alex Len at No. 5 and has been impressed with rookie guard Archie Goodwin, potentially will have four first-round picks in next year's draft.

"The night is darkest just before the dawn," McDonough said. "And I promise you, the dawn is coming."

That likely won't be this season, but Hornacek is excited to have the services of returning leading scorer Goran Dragic and Channing Frye, who missed all of last season due to a heart condition. At 6-foot-11, Frye can play both inside and outside, as he's a 39.0 percent career 3-point shooter.

Frye didn't expect to play until December, but he's way ahead of schedule and plans to play in the opener.

'He pushed himself,' Hornacek said. 'I was surprised in training camp. I thought he would get into it slowly and do a couple of things but he kept pushing through stuff, rarely sat out.'

Phoenix will be without Markieff Morris on Wednesday as he serves a one-game suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka in a preseason game.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 POR  -220   -5.5   197.5 
 PHO  +180   +5.5   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 POR  -220   -5.5   198 
 PHO  +185   +5.5   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 POR  76%   77%   79% 
 PHO  24%   23%   21% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 NBA HEAD TO HEAD
 Oct 9, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PHO 104 Cover: 9 
 POR 98 Over: 202 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Feb 19, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PHO 102 Cover: 10.5 
 POR 98 Over: 200 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Dec 22, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 PHO 93 Cover: 1.5 
 POR 96 Under: 189 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Nov 21, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 POR 87 Under: 201 
 PHO 114 Cover: 25 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Oct 12, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 POR 93 Over: 197 
 PHO 104 Cover: 6.5 
 Tools:   Recaps

 NBA PREVIEWS
 Wednesday, Oct 30
 
    Heat at 76ers
7:05 PM EDT
    Nets at Cavaliers
7:05 PM EDT
    Celtics at Raptors
7:05 PM EDT
    Bucks at Knicks
7:35 PM EDT
    Wizards at Pistons
7:35 PM EDT
    Pacers at Pelicans
8:05 PM EDT
    Bobcats at Rockets
8:05 PM EDT
    Magic at Timberwolves
8:05 PM EDT
    Hawks at Mavericks
8:35 PM EDT
    Grizzlies at Spurs
8:35 PM EDT
    Thunder at Jazz
9:05 PM EDT
    Trail Blazers at Suns
10:05 PM EDT
    Nuggets at Kings
10:05 PM EDT
    Lakers at Warriors
10:35 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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