How will nearly a week off help/hurt Blazers vs. Knicks

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Blazers Pregame Notebook: How will nearly a week off help/hurt Blazers vs. Knicks originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The Portland Trail Blazers welcome into town the New York Knicks after not having played a game since Portland lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the MLK Jr. Day matinee. 

Yes, it’s been six days since the Blazers last played a game.

With two straight contests against Memphis postponed this past week due to COVID-19 contact tracing, the Blazers now face the Knicks in the first of two meetings this season.

As the Blazers continue to figure out their new rotation without starting center Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and starting shooting guard CJ McCollum (left mid-foot fracture), New York will be also without Reggie Bullock (neck; sore).

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But the big question is:  

Will Portland need to shake off some rust?  

Hours before tip-off, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said that was a very good question and offered up this answer:

“I’d like to think we have some fresh legs and we’ll be ready to go and we’ll come out to a good start, but that’s why you play the game — you never know.”

The Knicks went from one of the worst defensive teams in the league to one of the best this season.

And that’s what Coach Stotts was focused on pregame. 

They’ve been a very good defensive team this year. Julius Randle has really come into his own as a scorer, playmaker, rebounder – they play through him a lot. RJ Barrett’s getting more comfortable in his role particularly as a scorer, but I would say primarily it’s the impact that they’ve had on the defensive end.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts pregame

Whether the Blazers are rusty or fresh, they’ll need to be prepared for the Randle-Barrett one-two-punch. 

Randle is averaging 22.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6.2 assists through 17 games played. Barrett, in his second year in the league, is averaging 18.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

The Trail Blazers and Knicks tip-off at 7:00pm PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers. 

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