NBA

How will Trail Blazers fill gap left by Jusuf Nurkic?

How will Trail Blazers fill gap left by Jusuf Nurkic?

A lot of the worry has been centered around how the Portland Trail Blazers can reproduce the offensive impact that Jusuf Nurkic brings to the floor. The big Bosnian is out for the season with a broken leg, an especially damaging blow this late in the season. Portland has run a lot of passes through Nurkic at the high post this year, and the Blazers offense will spatially function fundamentally different with him sidelined. 

However, I think the biggest change for the Blazers with Nurkic out will be on defense.

Portland’s defense is 5.35 points per 100 possessions better with Nurkic on the floor this season, per PBP stats. He’s an excellent defender inside of six feet, and is a top 10 when it comes to defensive field goal percentage for starting centers according to NBA.com.

With Nurkic out, coach Terry Stotts will need to do something different. However, his alternatives in Enes Kanter, Zach Collins, and Meyers Leonard aren't the same kind of defensive players. What can Stotts do to cobble together an effective defensive lineup that stays out of foul trouble? I think there's some answers yet to be had here.

Then there's the offensive side of the ball. Wednesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls notwithstanding, Collins has slowly lost his scoring confidence. Meanwhile Leonard has regressed after having his minutes cut in March.

What this means is that replacing Nurkic’s offensive production can probably be most easily replicated by Kanter, who has the ability to operate from similar spots on the floor, and draw some of that same gravity from defenders.

 It won't be easy, but watch the full video breakdown above to see how Portland might be able to amalgamate a big man rotation that can keep opponents on their toes as the Blazers try to battle for playoff victory in the weeks ahead.

On a night the Warriors won, the NBA lost

usatsi_12873577.jpg
USA Today

On a night the Warriors won, the NBA lost

These NBA Finals have been absolutely amazing. 

One team is trying three-peat while the other team is trying to win its first championship in franchise history. 

It's Steph and Co. vs Klaw and Co.

The North vs The Bay.

U.S.A vs Canada.

No matter how you slice it, the series has been well worth the price of admission and just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it got better.

Like one of those famous Marvel Cinematic Universe end scenes that get you hyped for the next movie and hint at a new character, Twitter started to tease us with the prospect that Kevin Durant could return to play in Game 5. Then the tease turned to reality. KD was a full go. He was about to play superhero. He was going to will the Warriors up from the ashes and the brink of elimination to another championship. 

The story had the making of a Hollywood script. Durant came out on fire. He showed no signs of rust as he torched the Raptors early.  Then in a snap, it all came crashing down. One wrong move and Durant fell to the floor.

It is feared the Durant has torn his Achilles. If that's the case, what a heartbreaking end of the season for one of the greatest players in the game. 

Injuries are the worst part of sports. 

The. Worst.

You know what sucks? Jusuf Nurkic breaking his leg.
You know that sucks? Victor Oladipo rupturing his quad tendon
You what sucks? Kevin Durant tearing his Achilles.

Now I'm not here to place blame like so much of social media was quick to do on Monday night. Was it Golden State's fault? Was it Kevin Durant's fault? Was it your next door neighbors fault? Come on. 

No matter who we choose to blame for this accident, the end result is the same - We don't get to watch one of the most amazing basketball players in the world next season, and even worse, he doesn't get to lace up his shoes and play the games he loves. 

That was my first reaction when I saw the injury Monday night. A man who put it all on the line, who wanted nothing more than to play the game of basketball, had it cruelly ripped away from him on the world's biggest stage. I cared not for the series. I cared not for how this could impact free agency. I cared only for the person on the court wearing the blue No.35 jersey.

Too often we forget that these players are not robots. they are people. Kevin Durant the person will be around long after Kevin Durant the player is gone, so we should really take time to enjoy Durant the player while we can.

We should all be rooting for Durant, because as much we want to make him a basketball villain and pretend like we hate him, deep down we all know we need him. 

It's like the scene in The Dark Knight where Batman says The Joker wants to kill him. Joker's response, "I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you... No, no, you… you complete me." 

Durant completes us.

Why? Because as fans we all love the game of basketball, and the game of basketball is better when the best in the world are suited up. Seeing Durant, arguably the best player the game has to offer, on the court makes the game that much better. 

I hope Durant comes back stronger than ever. The game next season won't be the same without him. 

Portland native Ime Udoka joins 76ers coaching staff

usatsi_12341303.jpg
USA Today

Portland native Ime Udoka joins 76ers coaching staff

Portland native and former Trail Blazer, Ime Udoka is leaving San Antonio to join Brett Brown's staff in Philadelphia, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. 

Udoka was born in Portland, attended Portland's Jefferson High School, and played his final seasons of collegiate basketball at Portland State.

Udoka played in the NBA from 2003 to 2011, but fans in Portland will remember him most for the 2006-07 season when he played for his hometown Trail Blazers. He played in 75 games for the Blazers that season, averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. It would end up being the best season of his career. 

In 2012, Udoka joined the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant under head coach Gregg Popovich. In his seven seasons in San Antonio, Udoka had become one of the more well-respected assistants in the league.

Now he moves to Philadelphia where he will fill the void left by Monty Williams, who was hired as the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns back in May.

Williams was an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers from 2005 to 2010, meaning a former Trail Blazer is being replaced by a former Trail Blazer. 

 

 

Chris Haynes hosting media basketball tournament

Chris Haynes hosting media basketball tournament

Have you ever wanted to see the members of the NBA media take their skills from the keyboard to the hardwood? Well, tonight's your chance. 

Chris Haynes, formerly of NBC Sports Northwest and now the Senior NBA Insider for Yahoo Sports, has put together a special basketball tournament featuring writers covering the NBA Finals. 

Members of the media you can see on the court tonight: Chris Haynes, Ethan Strauss, Nate Duncan, Sam Amick,  Vince Goodwill, and NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh among many others. 

This is not just your normal media get together to play some pick-up ball. Oh, no. This event will feature a full commentary team and will be live streamed thanks to Metro by Mobile, tonight at 7 p.m.!

Full rosters can be seen below. 

One more thing. Before you write this group off as a bunch of people who don't know how to play the game, let us remind you of the time Chris Haynes scored on Will Barton. Check it out in the video below. 

Soccer could influence the future of the NBA

Soccer could influence the future of the NBA

The NBA is always looking toward the future, and now they are doing so with an eye on soccer. Soccer leagues around the world are known for having multiple in-season tournaments that teams play in, and now the NBA is looking at that model to add intrigue to the season. 

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the NBA and Adam Silver are “fairly intensely” studying the addition of an in-season Cup tournament where the final four would play for the cup in place of the All-Star Game, which has seen dwindling ratings over the years.

 

If not a midseason tournament, the league could add an end of the season play-in tournament to ensure the best teams are in the eventual NBA Playoffs. 

Changes this grand would be a seismic shift to how the NBA works and may take a while for fans to grab onto, but these types of tournaments have worked very well for soccer leagues around the world. 

Not only does soccer have multiple tournaments, but it also has promotion and relegation. Could we see a future where the worst record in the NBA gets relegated to the G-League, while the G-League champion gets promoted to the NBA? That may sound crazy, but again, look at the soccer model. It works. 

In all likelyhood, the NBA will probably not change a ton about its current format, but it's great that the commissioner is always looking to other leagues to see how he can improve his own.

Would you be for adding tournaments to the NBA season or are you a purist who just wants to keep it how it is?  If you were commissioner, what would you change? 

 

Warriors vs Raptors: Who you taking in the NBA Finals?

Warriors vs Raptors: Who you taking in the NBA Finals?

One team is looking to three-peat while the other team is appearing in its first NBA Finals ever. So who you got, the Warriors or the Raptors?

Our Blazers Outsiders took a time to give us their picks:

Jake McGrady: Heart says Raptors, mind says Warriors. The Raptors are intriguing. Kawhi Leonard is a complete force of nature, a beast in his own right. He's been to the NBA Finals with the Spurs, but he's never been the sole leader and heart of a franchise going into the finals. I think something interesting is going to happen and at the least, the series will go farther than people are predicting. 

Alex Haigh: I don't have a good feeling about the Raptors... I'm with Jake. It's like heart says Raptors, mind says Warriors. But my mind really says Warriors, especially if KD comes back. It's the Raptors' first trip to the finals and I don't know if they have it in them

Chris Burkhardt: Until they are dethroned it's hard to go against the defending champs. We saw first hand what they did to the Blazers, and that was without Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. And before you say "well, the Blazers were trash..." No. No, they weren't. We can argue about Portland's roster deficiencies all day long, but the fact of the matter is that roster was good enough to get them to Western Conference Finals. Then, a team that was just that much better than everyone else destroyed them. The Warriors are that good. Now, with the way the Raptors are playing, I think the Warriors are going to get the biggest test they have had in these playoffs. I even think the Raptors have what it takes to pull off a series upset if the cards fall right. But if I'm walking up to window in Las Vegas right now, I'm putting my money on Golden State. 

 

NBA makes changes to free agency moratorium period

NBA makes changes to free agency moratorium period

No more waiting until 12am Eastern Time on July 1st to see where your favorite players are heading. The NBA has officially announced that the moratorium period, the period in which teams can officially start negotiations with free agents,  will be moved back to 6pm Eastern Time on June 30th. 

According to the release, teams will also be able to officially contact free agents at 6pm on June 29th, but only to officially schedule meetings at or after 6pm on June 30th. 

The six-hour time change does away with an antiquated way of dealing with free agents and moves to a more reasonable hour for not only the players and their agents, but for the fans watching and the media covering free agency.

For those of us in the Portland area, we can now see who the Blazers are bringing in off the market starting at 3pm local time on June 30th. Not bad, not bad at all. Schedule your vacations or lunch breaks accordingly. 

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers this off-season.Get Local Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.Download the app, log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now 

Klay Thompson explains love for Oregon, shares Michael Jordan memory

Klay Thompson explains love for Oregon, shares Michael Jordan memory

Despite facing the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals, Klay Thompson remains an Oregonian at heart.

The Warriors shooting guard grew up in Lake Oswego, Ore., before moving to California when he was 14. He went to college at Washington State University and is a Pacific Northwest guy through and through.

During his media availability Wednesday, Thompson went long on his appreciation for the nature in Oregon and his favorite swimming spots in The Beaver State.

Never change, Klay.

The three-time NBA champion also told a story of the time he met Michael Jordan while attending a Blazers game in 1998.

Rasheed Wallace isn't a bad pick for favorite Blazer. I personally would have gone with Bonzi Wells, but you can't go wrong with Sheed.

Klay will at least get two games in Oregon during the series when the Warriors and Blazers play Games 3 and 4 at the Moda Center on Saturday and Monday.

With the way the Warriors played during their Game 1 win, the series might not make it back to Portland for Game 6. So, Klay will have to wait until the summer to go enjoy the nature in the PNW.

Seth Curry, Steph to test brotherly love in Western Conference finals

Seth Curry, Steph to test brotherly love in Western Conference finals

Arguably the two best backcourts in the game.

Damian Lillard returning to his hometown of Oakland, for what could be the final playoff series ever at Oracle Arena.

The potential returns of both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins.

The Western Conference finals matchup is now set after the Trail Blazers eliminated the Nuggets in Game 7 on Sunday, setting up a matchup with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. The series offers plenty of reasons for intrigue, but there's one in particular that stands out for its historical rarity.

And it's bound to stress out every member of the Curry family.

In these Western Conference finals, Portland's Seth and Golden State's Steph Curry will become just the seventh pair of brothers in NBA history to face each other in an NBA playoff series.

This, however, will be the first-ever time two brothers have gone head-to-head in the conference finals.

Apparently, the elder brother was anticipating this outcome:

It's a simultaneous best-and-worst-case scenario for Dell and Sonya Curry. One of their sons is guaranteed to play for the NBA championship. The other won't get the opportunity (this year, at least).

If you think that's tough, just imagine what Sunday would have been like had the Warriors not eliminated the Rockets in six games of their second-round series. Had that series gone seven games, their Game 7 would also have been on Sunday, forcing the Curry parents to divide-and-conquer in support.

Luckily for the parents, the Warriors handled business in Houston, allowing them to be present for Seth's contributions to Portland's thrilling Game 7 road win in Denver.

You can be sure the Curry parents will be in attendance for all games of the Western Conference finals, however many there may be.

How they split up the team allegiances, though, is anyone's guess.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Denver Nuggets in Game 7

usatsi_12627696_1.jpg
USA Today Images

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Denver Nuggets in Game 7

DENVER – The Portland Trail Blazers are looking to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000, as Portland gets set to battle it out with the Denver Nuggets in the final game of this best-of-seven series.

Before Game 7 tipped off, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone and Blazers head Terry Stotts gave one last update to the media. 

Denver has been so concerned about slowing down Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but for Game 7 there’s a second unit player they’re going to focus on. Coach Malone said he is going to have his team make a defensive adjustment on Rodney Hood.  

“The guy I’m worried about is Rodney Hood. He has literally won two games for them,” Malone said.

Hood is averaging 16 points in the series.

Hear from Coach Malone right here:

As for Coach Stotts, he was asked if he would be willing to play is key players the full 48-minutes if necessary.

“It depends on how the game goes,” Stotts said. “I know, for example, [Nikola] Jokic played the entire second half of Game 7 against San Antonio. You’ve got to do whatever you think the team needs.”

Hear from Coach Stotts right here: