OAKLAND, Calif. - The second game of a back-to-back series in the NBA is never kind to teams, especially when they are waking up in hotel rooms.
It's easily the most difficult type of game to play. And if you factor in airplane trips and different time zones, it's easier to understand the plight of the 76ers. They will play in Portland, Ore., on Saturday night, on the heels of Friday's road game against the Golden State Warriors.
"Well, Portland will be playing a back-to-back, too," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "They've got to play and travel. I don't think our guys will be affected by that. I'm not worried about that."
The Sixers are 2-5 this season in the second game of back-to-backs. They will have the next two days off before resuming their schedule, which includes two more sets of back-to-backs beginning on New Year's Day with the Los Angeles Lakers. On Jan. 2, the Sixers will play at Phoenix, travel, and then close out the road trip with back-to-backs at Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
"It doesn't get any easier," reserve center Spencer Hawes said.
The Trail Blazers, who played Friday against the Lakers in Los Angeles, have been tough at home this season (10-4), and they have been playing particularly well lately. Going into Friday's game, the Trail Blazers had won six of their last seven games.
The Blazers rely heavily on leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge (21.1 points per game entering Friday), Nicolas Batum (16.1), and J.J. Hickson, who averages 12.8 points and is one of the top rebounders in the league at 11.1 per game.
The biggest surprise, however, has come from rookie point guard Damian Lillard. The sixth overall pick in the draft, the Weber State point guard leads all rookies in scoring (18.6 points), assists (6.7), and minutes per game (37.9).
The 6-foot-3 point guard began his career with a bang when he scored 23 points and handed out 11 assists on Oct. 31 against the Lakers, joining Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only players in NBA history with at least 20 points and 10 assists in their debut.