The Portland Trail Blazers might have snapped their six-game losing streak with a 20-point win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, but there's no reason to expect the immediate road ahead to be smooth.
Portland takes on the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night, the first of back-to-back games between the two teams in a two-night, home-and-home set.
While the Clippers present a big challenge for a Portland squad that's short on depth, L.A. has been dealing with its own problems of late.
The Clips have lost three in a row, playing the last two without point guard Chris Paul (knee), and it's uncertain whether he'll be on the court at the Rose Garden on Saturday night. Worse yet, the Clippers are coming off a 93-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns, and they're taking on a Portland team that's proven it can stay hot in stretches; before that six-game losing skid, the Blazers had won 12 of 15 games.
Portland will be riding some momentum from its 100-80 victory over the Pacers and from the news Thursday that power forward LaMarcus Aldridge had been selected to his second consecutive All-Star game. Aldridge is averaging 20.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while having led the Blazers to an unexpected 21-21 record to this point.
The question, of course, is which Portland team will show up to take on the Clippers. The Blazers' lack of depth is the primary reason they've had some serious up-and-down swings this season. The starting unit has been phenomenal, but there's simply been nobody to plug the gaps when one of the first five needs to sit for one reason or another.
With or without Paul, the Clippers will be anxious to move on from Thursday's loss to the Suns. Can the Blazers protect their turf on Saturday night against a highly talented and motivated opponent?
Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.