NBA

Kanter is picking and the Trail Blazers are rolling to another win

Kanter is picking and the Trail Blazers are rolling to another win

ATLANTA – The indoctrination of Enes Kanter into the Portland Trail Blazers’ system continued Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks and it went very well.

First, the Trail Blazers thumped the Hawks 118-98 for their sixth straight win. Second, Kanter, again starting in place of injured Jusuf Nurkic, had perhaps his most-complete game yet for the Trail Blazers.

The former backup center scored 14 points on 7-11 from the field, had eight rebounds and a blocked shot in two seconds shy of 25 minutes on the court.

And he looked comfortable in the pick-and-roll with Damian Lillard, something we hadn’t seen a lot of prior to this game.

In fact, hadn’t seen a lot of it in Kanter’s career. He’s been a post-up, low-block player through most of his time in the league, but when you put him with Lillard, there’s instant chemistry.

“When you have Dame – they said Nurk and Dame was the best pick-and-roll in the league, so Coach told me, ‘Hey, we have the best guy so just go set a pick and he’s going to make the shot.’

“So my thing is, from Day One they were telling me to go set a good pick for Dame and that’s my focus every game. He’s going to score the ball and make everyone else better.

“This is the first time I’m actually running this much pick-and-rolls. But when you have a guy like Dame, I mean he’s just making everyone around him better. The game becomes so easy and everyone is comfortable out there.”

Lillard, of course, carried his usual heavy load with CJ McCollum home recovering from his knee injury and Nurkic out with a broken leg.

Lillard made 13-of-25 shots, including 4-10 from three-point range, had seven assists, a blocked shot, only two turnovers and 36 points in 32:04.

And he was taking on Trae Young, the latest of the young point guards to try to take Lillard on and prove something.

Young held his own in the first quarter, getting an 18-18 draw with Portland’s All-NBA point guard. But for the game he was only 1-8 from three-point range and needed 25 shots to score 26 points.

Portland Coach Terry Stotts liked his team’s defense.

“From a defensive standpoint, Atlanta had been on a roll, scoring 120 or something since the All-Star break,” he said. “So to hold them under 100 says a lot for our defense.

“First quarter, we probably didn’t defend as well as we needed to but after that it was pretty good. Damian was terrific again -- scoring, passing. Enes did a nice job in the lane, offensively and defensively. So, anyway, against a team that’s been playing pretty well lately it was a good win. They just beat Utah and Philadelphia and I think that speaks enough (about how good Atlanta is).”

Stotts continued his tinkering with lineups and ran out a group in the first half that included no centers at all.

“I mean Chief (Aminu) is long,” Stotts said, “He’s not a typical center but I think it’s something we have to look at, Whether it’s having Chief and Mo (Harkless), or Rodney (Hood) or Jake (Layman), Even (Turner) – we’ve got good length on the wings, so I don’t know how much we’ll do that but it’s something we have to look at and see how it goes.”

Stotts talked about the pick-and-rolls with Kanter.

“Our first five pick-and-rolls with Enes were scores,” he said. “Whether it was him or Dame, he set good screens, he’s rolling. The way the game started, him and Dame in pick-and-rolls worked pretty well.”

Porltand got balanced scoring, with 17 from Al-Farouq Aminu, 12 from Seth Curry and nine from Zach Collins.

The Trail Blazers get no rest on Saturday. They meet the Pistons in Detroit on the second of back-to-back games before finishing the four-game trip at Minnesota against the Timberwolves Monday night.

Outsiders: John Sabine - The great unknown draft prospect

Outsiders: John Sabine - The great unknown draft prospect

We all have dreams. Some big, some small, but dreams the same. Now one of our friends in Chicago is trying to live his - make it in the NBA.

John Sabine has officially entered his name in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Who is John Sabine you ask? Sabine is a fellow Outsider, co-host of Bulls Outsiders in Chicago. He's short by NBA standards, he's slow by any standards, and his strength measurables leave much to be desired. But hey, they also said Kevin Durant was too weak when he entered the NBA and that hasn't hurt him one bit. 

Sabine is laying it all on the line to live the dream. Will an NBA team take the risk and draft him? You can always coach him up and fix his skillset. One thing you can't teach is leadership. By all accounts, Sabine is a class act. The perfect locker room guy. He's not the water boy, but if someone needs a quick drink he won't hesitate to jump up and grab the Gatorade. He's a team-first guy. Sometimes it's that mentality in the team huddle that helps get the squad over the hump.

At the very, very least one of these 30 NBA should at least sign Sabine to their Summer League squad. Everything to gain, nothing to lose. 

Sabine is dreaming, and dreaming big. Here's to hoping he lands on an NBA roster. Just think of the future documentary potential! These are the stories made for TV movies are made of. 

Our Blazers Outsiders took the time to breakdown some of Sabine's training film and you can hear their analysis in the video above.

On a night the Warriors won, the NBA lost

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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

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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.