The holidays are over. All the presents are unwrapped, the streets are lined with discarded Christmas trees, and you’ve already blown your new year’s resolution. (Don’t worry, we didn’t make it to the gym this morning, either.) It’s easy to let the winter blues take hold following most the wonderful time of the year, but there is still hope yet for some joy this January with ski trips to the mountain, storm watching at the Oregon Coast, and maybe even a little winter camping if you’re adventurous.
But if being cold isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of indoor activities on the calendar ahead, and one of the most surefire ways to get a good hit of that sweet dopamine while staying warm inside is to attend a Portland Trail Blazers game.
After an extremely hot 10–4 start to the season, the Blazers have been on a bit of skid as of late. They dropped a pair of close games to an undermanned Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, were served a tough loss to division rival Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena, and took another on the chin in the Bay losing to the Golden State Warriors the day before New Year’s Eve.
Their record now stands at 19–18, just above .500 and sitting at seventh in the NBA’s Western Conference—second in the Northwest Division behind the Nugs. But the Blazers are poised this month to make a run at getting back in the driver’s seat before the all-star break with two long stretches of home games for die-hard fans to help bolster their performance. The return of high-flying Gary Payton II following his months-long recovery from an abdominal surgery is also another reason to excited about the Blazers’ prospects in their upcoming schedule. The Blazers have a program where they’ll notify you if there are unsold tickets at low prices, which is a good way to get in to see a game without spending an arm and a leg—as long as you’re cool with cheering from the cheap seats.
If you’re looking for mood boost by rooting for the home team—or if you just really love high-scoring basketball—here are this month’s not-to-be-missed games with some of the league’s hottest players set to take the court at Moda Center:
Cleveland Cavaliers—Thursday, Jan 12
Donovan Mitchell just scored 71 points in an 145–134 overtime win against the Chicago Bulls, the most points scored by any player since Kobe Bryant put up 81 on the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Scoring prowess is nothing new to Trail Blazer fans who’ve seen all-star point guard Damian Lillard put up 40, 50, and 60 points on occasion—and that’s not to mention the fact that shooting guard Anfernee Simons is having a career season for points and three balls. Seeing Lillard and Mitchell square off is surely an opportunity to witness some legendary basketball in the making. This game is also a good excuse to break out that Robin Lopez jersey sitting in the back of your closet that you just haven’t been able to let go of for some reason.
Dallas Mavericks—Saturday & Sunday, Jan 14 & 15
Luka Doncic. Need I say more? The Matador is leading the league in scoring with 34.3 points per game, and fourth in assists per game at 9.5. The numbers might be impressive (he just put up 51 on the San Antonio Spurs), but watching him on the floor is another thing entirely. Trail Blazer fans have two opportunities to catch him in action against Lillard and crew, the first of which (Saturday) is also Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Night at Moda Center. The team needs to win at least one of these two meetings at home to remain on track for the postseason, preferably both.
Philadelphia 76ers—Thursday, Jan 19
Joel Embiid and James Harden travel to PDX to take on the Trail Blazers in a single-game matchup that has all the makings of an instant classic. The 76ers are fifth in the Eastern Conference with the triple-double machine that is Embiid powering them ahead. The Blazers so-far unremarkable defense will need to be on point to slow down the scoring trio of Embiid, The Beard and Tyrese Maxey. Either that, or Lillard, Simmons, and Jerami Grant (or some other combination of Lillard, Simmons, and Payton, etc.) will need to ball out to keep up. This game could easily see more than 250 total points scored.
Los Angeles Lakers—Sunday, Jan 22
LeBron James is single-handedly keeping the Lakers in the hunt for the Western Conference playoffs this season just 3.5 games back from the 10th seed Utah Jazz and a chance at a play-in game. With back-to-back 40-plus-point games against the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets, it’s safe to say the King’s game is still far from decline. Getting to see LeBron play in person is like watching Kobe or Michael Jordan—you’re going to tell your kids about it one day. It doesn’t matter if he puts up 40-plus or not, you were still in the physical presence of greatness.
Utah Jazz—Wednesday, Jan 25
Another team that started out hot but is struggling of late. The Blazers split a pair of games with the Jazz up to this point in the season and are looking to take a 2–1 advantage over a division foe that is consistently a thorn in the Blazer franchise’s side. It’s yet to be seen whether the rebuild that took place in Salt Lake City over the offseason is working, with the Jazz going 4–6 in their last 10 games. This should be an easy win for the Blazers at home, but never count the Jazz out.
Atlanta Hawks—Monday, Jan 30
Hawks point guard Trae Young is tied for first in assists and ranked ninth in the league for scoring. He and the Hawks close out the Trail Blazers’ January home schedule in what’s likely to be another high-scoring affair with Dejounte Murray rounding out their backcourt. This could be another easy home win for the Blazers before heading into February with the all-star break (the unofficial midway point of the season) just around the corner.