When Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers make their one and only appearance in Atlanta on Friday to take on the Hawks coached by Trae Young, two of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA will be in the spotlight.
Lillard scored 71 points on Sunday against the Houston Rockets and 41 points on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, who defeated them 121-110. He has 7.1 assists and 32.3 points per game, which ranks third in the league going into Thursday’s action.
In the last three games, Young has scored at least 30 points, including 31 on Tuesday against Washington, which was a 119-116 defeat. Young is averaging 27.1 points and 10.1 assists per game, which ranks him 10th in the league heading into Thursday’s action. Last season, he scored 56 against Portland.
Dejounte Murray, Murray’s backcourt teammate, had a career performance against the Blazers in their first meeting. Murray had a career-high 40 points, seven assists, eight rebounds, and no turnovers. According to Elias Sports, he is the first Hawk to achieve those results since the 1977–78 campaign.
This is the second time the two teams have met this season. On its own court, Portland prevailed 129-125 on January 30. In that game, Lillard scored 42 points, and he has scored 30 or more points in five of his last five games against Atlanta. The Hawks have won their last three games in Atlanta, including last season’s 122-113 victory.
Both teams’ hopes of making the playoffs depend on this game.
For the No. 1 spot, Portland is 1 1/2 games behind New Orleans. a chance to participate in the play-in tournament and a spot in the Western Conference’s top ten. When the Blazers lost to the Pelicans, they missed a chance to gain ground.
Six of its last nine games and four of its last five are losses for Portland. Atlanta is the first game in a six-game East Coast road trip for the Blazers.
No. 1 is Atlanta. Eighth in the Eastern Conference, three games behind No. 6 Brooklyn for last place in the playoffs. The Hawks will play their final four games of a four-game homestand following the All-Star Game. The remaining four games will be played on the road.
Atlanta will play its second game under the direction of head coach Quin Snyder. On Wednesday, Snyder was in charge, but he left a lot of the game decisions up to assistant Joe Prunty, who led the team to two wins after Nate McMillan was fired.
After missing three games due to a right ankle sprain, Anfernee Simons returned to Portland. However, Simons had to be taken to the locker room after injuring the same ankle in the third quarter against New Orleans. He will be decided on game day.