#BeatHouston: A look at how the Portland Timbers might hit the hardcourt & Portland Trail Blazers set a starting XI for the pitch | The Backcut
This Sunday, the Portland Timbers and Portland Trail Blazers are both playing teams from the city of Houston. At high noon, deep in the heart of Texas, the Timbers do battle with the Houston Dynamo (12pm PT, KPTV). Later that same day, the Blazers, leading 2-1 in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, take on the Rockets in Game 4 in Portland at the Moda Center (6:30pm PT, KGW, TNT).
With both teams aiming to #BeatHouston on Sunday, we wondered what if in some alternate universe, the Timbers played basketball and the Blazers took to the pitch? Both dribble. Both play on the break. Take a look at the scenarios below and then be sure to cheer for both Timbers and Blazers this Sunday.
Timbers on the hardcourt
Point Guard -- Diego Valeri: A great offense needs a great leader, with several talents to his name. Valeri can pass, shoot, start the break and drop it in from long range. Got to have him bringing the ball up the floor.
Shooting Guard -- Darlington Nagbe: The Timbers' young spark is a force to be reckoned with on offense, and you would have to assume that in a matchup against NBA talent, his usage rate would be near the top.
Small Forward -- Diego Chara: He's the man you want with you at all times. Chara is everywhere on the pitch, stopping the opposing attack and facilitating the offense. No one would want to be guarded by Chara in an NBA game. That's a lockdown defender right there.
Power Forward -- Will Johnson: Will Johnson would ring the bell so many times in Blazers practice. The Timbers captain has the grit and the hustle to take on the big boys down low, with surprising offensive prowess that makes him a dangerous two-way player.
Center -- Donovan Ricketts: It's all about rim protection. With Ricketts roaming the paint, Johnson would be free to gamble on help defense, and a bigger guard like Valeri could help crash the boards. Defense makes the world go round. It also helps if you can put on a block party.
Blazers on the pitch
GK -- Robin Lopez: Pretty much a no-brainer. Lopez has anchored Portland's defense all season, not only with his help defense but in one-on-one play as well. As goalkeeper, Lopez is the heart and soul of the back line.
D -- Meyers Leonard: His sure size alone would let him get to opposing strikers on the pitch, but Leonard's soft touch makes him a good choice for a starting XI player.
D -- Joel Freeland: Freeland has been a vital part of the Blazers' defense all year, spelling Robin Lopez and practicing the art of verticality. Put him in the mixer during a set piece and watch him go to work.
D -- Thomas Robinson: He's tough, he's got energy and he's beefy. Robinson would stand in the center of the defense, ready to block any oncoming shot in order to start the counter.
D -- Wesley Matthews: Portland's shooting guard draws the toughest defensive assignment, night in and night out, but is still a critical part of the Blazers offense. He and Will Johnson could swap stories.
M -- Nicolas Batum: A box-to-box midfielder if I've ever seen one, Nic Batum does it all. He's a master on defense, a hustler on the counterattack (fastbreak) and his role in the offense can't be undermined, even if it is someone else getting all the goals.
M -- Damian Lillard: The Blazers point guard is a true No. 10, dishing out assists for others while moving speedily through the opponent's back line for easy chances at the net.
M -- Mo Williams: Often pulled into duty on offense, Wiliams' job is to run the Blazers' second unit on offense while the starters get a breather. As one of the best dribblers on the Blazers, it's safe to assume Williams would live up to his reputation on the grass.
F -- Dorell Wright: Wright is one of the deadliest shooters on the Blazers, and from a position in midfield, his long-range tendencies would help him to draw defenders to his spot.
F -- LaMarcus Aldridge: Portland's tall, lanky forward would make an excellent No. 9. He's rangy, he's quick and he's got the perfect mix of power and finesse around the goal.
F -- C.J. McCollum: The Blazers rookie got extended run earlier in the season, and showed just how dangerous he can be on the offensive end of the floor. The savviest of veterans aren't safe against him.
Dane Carbaugh is the Digital Staff Writer for the Portland Timbers. He also writes for SB Nation and Blazers Edge.