The key: Will Thunder continue to outshoot the Blazers from three?

The key: Will Thunder continue to outshoot the Blazers from three?

When Oklahoma City takes the floor Sunday afternoon against the Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, the Thunder will undoubtedly take some confidence with them for having swept Portland 4-0 during their season series.

But I’m never certain that what happens in the regular season carries over into the playoffs. And this season series was marked by something uncharacteristic that may not be repeated in a playoff series.

The biggest reason the Thunder held a 4-0 edge on the Blazers was three-point shooting, OKC did it well and Portland did not.

And by a wide margin. Which I’m not sure will continue to happen.

Oklahoma City made 39.3 percent of its threes against the Trail Blazers. For the season on the whole, the Thunder made just 34.8 percent from three-point range.

In the four games vs. OKC, the Trail Blazers managed an anemic 28.5 percent from three – and this was a team that shot .359 for the season from that distance.

Looking at it another way, the Thunder took 27 fewer three-point shots over the four games between the teams but made four more.

And if you want to talk individually, the first thing you need to know is that vs. the Thunder, Damian Lillard made only 25 percent of his threes and OKC’s Russell Westbrook hit 35 percent of his. For the record, Westbrook managed to make just 29 percent of his three-point attempts against the league this season. And he’s a career 30.4 percent shooter from distance, while Lillard was a 36.9 percent shooter from three this season.

There were mitigating circumstances in those four games, of course. There always is during a long season.

“They’ve shot the ball very well against us from three and we haven’t,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said Saturday. “That’s been the deciding factor in most of the games.”

Is that something OKC did on defense or was Portland  just missing good shots?

“In general, it’s a little bit of both,” Stotts said. “You’ve got to credit their defense but I think we had a lot of makeable shots… that’s part of basketball.

“As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t know if fatigue was a factor but two of the games were second of a back-to-back and that could have been a factor, and another was after a seven-game road trip.

“That could have been a factor. I’m not blaming that. But it could have been a factor.”

Seth Curry, the Blazers’ most accurate long-range shooter (45 percent in the regular season), went only 2-11 in the four games vs Oklahoma City.

“A couple of games were tough schedule-wise,” Curry said. “I think we’ve created good shots against them every time we’ve played them, pretty much. We’ll be able to knock them down.

“They’re a good defensive team but with Dame and CJ and myself coming off ball screens, we’ll be able to create good shots. As long as we create good shots, we’ll live with the results.

“You’re not going to shoot a good percentage if you’re taking bad shots. If you’re taking good shots, you might miss a few in a row but eventually it will even out. You’ll be back to your average.”

Curry also made a good point. These games were not played in a series – they were spread from January through March.

“It was four games throughout the year,” he said. “It’s not in a vacuum. You play a lot of games in between. It wasn’t four games in a row against one team.

“Create good shots, have strong legs and a strong base to shoot the ball.  Regular season numbers don’t tell the story.

“We’re a different team than when we played them. Our rotation is different. This is a much different team they’re playing.”

For sure, including Curry’s minutes, which have increased as the season has moved along.

Lillard, as is his habit, has taken a close look at the games -- and came away shaking his head.

“I was looking at it on film,” he said. “I forgot, we got some great looks – we just didn’t make shots. That’s been our focus,  shooting the ball with confidence.

“This is it. I don’t know what else to say. This is it. Looking at our four games against them, we got great looks. Our offense on the weak side was there, we were finding shooters but we didn’t make shots. Hopefully that turns in our favor.”

And when you look back at what happened during the season, you’d have to conclude that the Thunder will win this playoff series if it continues to dominate Portland from the three-point line.

But percentages do take over as the sample size increases. And that’s why I expect the Trail Blazers to win the series.

CJ McCollum shares thread of proof Beyoncé cheated on Jay Z for good reason

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CJ McCollum shares thread of proof Beyoncé cheated on Jay Z for good reason

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum has proven that people can count on him to produce on the court.

They can also count on him to be active on social media.

McCollum retweeted a post this week that many may wonder why he would be interested in such celebrity gossip news about Beyonce and Jay-Z.

However, the thread is not what it appears. This attention-grabbing tweet was a clever way to reach people in sharing how they can get involved and make a difference following the death of George Floyd. 

 

You can find the entire thread here.

Many professional sports teams along with players and coaches have been speaking out about the death of Floyd and social injustice.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, lost his life last Monday after a white police officer held Floyd down on the ground with his knee to Floyd's neck for several minutes. Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired. The officer who held Floyd down, Derek Chauvin, has now been charged with second degree murder and the other three officers face similar charges of aiding and abetting as it was just reported Wednesday morning.

Since Floyd's death, there have been protests, riots and looting in Minneapolis where the incident occurred as well as all across the country.

The Trail Blazers released a statement from the organization and its players to express their sympathies to not just Floyd's death, but also that of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, both of whom are black and tragically lost their lives.

As for McCollum, he has since posted on his Instagram, ‘The Grey Challenge’ which calls for people to ‘watch, learn and share.’

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For those wondering how you can help or what the next step is outside of just a post on social media or a donation here you go: side-note the post and donations are appreciated. Always good to know who’s who and where people stand on racism against African Americans: When we put Black and White together we get grey. If we are going to see true change beyond social media posts we will need to meet in that grey area and come together. There has been an outpouring of support and willingness from many in the white communities asking what they can do. Here is the first step in the right direction. We challenge you to educate yourselves on the black experience in America by watching this curated list of films. The more you are truly aware of what has transpired and continues to transpire in this country the more empathy and understanding can be had. True change requires empathy which will help Lead to more productive uncomfortable conversations and change. Empathy requires understanding and understanding comes with seeing from a different view point. In order to get to the grey area you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and own experiences. If you are truly down for the cause of change, healing and moving forward together accept this challenge and share it with your friends and family. Remember silence will only lead to more violence. Visit thegreychallenge.com and follow @thegreychallenge if you choose to accept. Hold yourself accountable and call out racism amongst friends, in the workplace and at home with family. Preach the importance of this human issue that is impacting the life’s of so many African Americans all across America. ✊✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

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Stephen Curry takes a side on Damian Lillard's meaningless games comment

Stephen Curry takes a side on Damian Lillard's meaningless games comment

Now that the NBA is reportedly ready for the Board of Governors to vote on a proposed 22-team format to return to play in Orlando, it sounds like Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard and the Blazers, who are currently in a three-way tie for ninth place out West, will get the opportunity to make the playoffs.

Lillard created headlines last week with his comments about the NBA's potential plans for resuming the season and not wanting to play in 'meaningless games.'

If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now. – Damian Lillard told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. 

Lillard continued, "If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs -- I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games."

But now, as 22 teams get set to pack their bags for Orlando, pending the NBA’s Board of Governors vote, it’s crazy to think about the Golden State Warriors not be among the teams traveling. The Warriors hold the worst record in the league at 15-50 after a trip to the NBA Finals the previous season.

This week, Warriors guard Stephen Curry joined Anthony Morrow and Justin Jack on 'The Life Podcast' to discuss the killing of George Floyd, as well as how COVID-19 is affecting the NBA and the plan to move forward, and much more.

But hey, Curry understands where Lillard was coming from with his comments about meaningless play.

I feel what he's saying because it's hard mentally to go with this long of gap, and then prepare for games you know don't matter. I get it. -- Steph Curry on the ‘The Life Podcast’

Curry added, "it's a hard thing to put your mind in that space, 'I'm gonna go out here and compete and bust my a-- and know in five games we're just gonna be back in the offseason again.'”

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Trail Blazers will be facing a tough task to steal that eighth seed from Memphis

Trail Blazers will be facing a tough task to steal that eighth seed from Memphis

It looks as if it’s going to be a difficult road for the Trail Blazers -- or any other team -- to steal that eighth playoff spot from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Multiple reports (the Athletic was first) indicate that six teams -- Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix and Washington -- not currently situated in the NBA’s 16-team playoff bracket will report to Orlando in addition to the playoff teams.

Teams will participate in an eight-game regular season and if that ends with the ninth seed closer than four games behind the eighth seed, a playoff will be held.

The Blazers, Kings and Pelicans all currently sit three and a half games behind No. 8 Memphis.

It’s being reported that the playoff between 8 and 9 would be double elimination for the higher seed and single elimination for the lower seed -- which seems to be a more complicated way of saying that the ninth seed must defeat the eighth seed twice in a row to advance.

It’s difficult to imagine any of those teams out of the playoff race now can make up three and a half games in just an eight-game schedule, meaning Memphis is still likely to be eighth.

But one of these teams is going to have to get hot to claim the ninth position and then stay hot, with no margin for error, by beating the No, 8 seed in consecutive games.

A tough task, all in all.

Trail Blazers projected to play for playoff spot if restart plan approved

Trail Blazers projected to play for playoff spot if restart plan approved

If the NBA approves a plan to restart the season with 22 teams at Orlando’s Disney World, the Portland Trail Blazers will be in the mix. 

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA is planning to propose a 22-team return to the 2019 season on Thursday in a Board of Governors Meeting. The current format would bring in 16 teams currently in playoff spots, six additional teams, as well as a play-in tournament for the eighth seed. 

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each of the 22 teams will play approximately eight regular season games in Orlando.

When the league halted play, there were five Western Conference teams vying for the eighth seed including Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento, and Phoenix. There is one team, Washington, within six games of Orlando for the No. 8 spot in the East.

Charania reported that if the ninth seed is four or more games back, the eighth seed earns the spot. However, if the ninth seed is 4 or fewer games behind, there will be a play-in with a single elimination for the ninth seed or double elimination for the eighth seed. Portland was 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth seed before the season was suspended on March 1.

[RELATED: Jaynes: Sources say NBA likely to go with 22 teams -- what will that look like?]

Commissioner Adam Silver recently laid out four options to resume play. A return with 16 teams directly to playoffs, 20 teams with group/stage play, 22 teams with games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for the final seed and a 30-game format with a 72-game regular season with play-in tournament. 

On Monday, NBCSNW's Dwight Jaynes reported the 22-team format was the plan gaining the most traction, but the format was yet to be determined.  

Charania confirmed that the 16-team and 30-team proposals recently lost traction. 

“The 16-team format would not provide teams currently out of the playoffs the opportunity to make a postseason bid, nor accomplish the financial upside of the other formats," Charania said. "The 30-team model, meanwhile, brings several bottom-feeding teams that do not belong in the bubble environment given the NBA’s medical safety and health priority.”

Some additional tidbits from Charania’s report include the draft lottery and combine taking place in August. As ESPN reported, the proposed timeline for the last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals is October 12. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

REPORT: NBA Governors to vote on return Thursday, formal dates set

REPORT: NBA Governors to vote on return Thursday, formal dates set

As the NBA inches closer to a return to play, there are so many questions still unanswered.

  • When will the season start?
  • Will there be a play-in style tournament to determine the playoffs?
  • Will the NBA go straight to the playoffs?
  • Will they return to play at a single site or two single sites?
  • What will the protocols be?
  • When will the season end?
  • When will next season begin?

This Thursday could be the day we get all or most of those questions answered.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA Board of Governors will meet Thursday to vote on the finalized plan for return. The NBA’s proposed timeline as a last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals would be October 12, according to the report.

It was back on Mar. 11 when Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and then later that night the news quickly broke that the NBA was suspending the 2019-20 season.

During last Friday’s conference call with the NBA Board of Governors, Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly laid out four options to what the NBA could look like once play resumes:

  • 16 teams: Directly to playoffs
  • 20: Group/stage play
  • 22: Games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for final seed(s)
  • 30: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney

From the sounds of it, it seems the league is leaning more towards the format of 22 teams returning in a play-in type tournament.

We should know a lot more on Thursday. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Carmelo Anthony and rapper T.I. call for unified, collective action, justice

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Carmelo Anthony and rapper T.I. call for unified, collective action, justice

Trail Blazers veteran and future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony shared a glass of wine with rapper Tip Harris AKA T.I. on Melo's weekly YouTube live show, 'What’s in your Glass'.

This week, though, was not about wine. 

Instead, it was a real conversation between Melo and T.I. about the current state of the nation.

“There’s things that need to be talked about, things that need to be discussed,” Anthony said. “We’re going to focus more on where we’re at as a country. It’s a matter of generational racism that got us to a point where we’re at right now.”

The Trail Blazers forward started off the show with a virtual toast and asked his special guest how he was doing.

T.I. took a moment before answering.

I’m torn up just like everyone else, emotional, angry, upset. I’m sick and tired of it, fed up. As long as I’ve been living, I’ve been hearing from people that we don’t stick together. 

These past few days, we’ve been sticking together. One thing I want to focus on are the things that bring us together vs. the things that tear us apart. We may have a different idea of how to get there, but we’re all on the same journey and we’re all fighting for the same cause. 

We’re all fed up, we all know something must be done, we’re all on the same side fighting the same enemy. So, I say we start there and then build and grow.  -- TI on What’s In Your Glass

Melo opened up about his difficult conversations with his 13-year-old son, Kiyan.

As Melo asked for T.I.’s advice on what he's saying to his young adult children, Melo added, “I’m having a hard time sitting down with my son.” Anthony also said that his son has “witnessed maybe 6 or 7 police killings of a black man.”

T.I. has made it clear to his children that he wants them to know, "This is not a problem that they brought about, that they caused. This was like that before they got here.”

The Atlanta, Georgia native continued to share how he sits down and talks with his kids.

We just have to find the best way to deal with it and remain safe, healthy and free in the process and I think the best way to do that is remove emotion. It’s difficult, especially for young people. [My advice] is hit or miss because there are no right answers. There’s nothing that they can do that will guarantee that they will not be killed. There’s nothing I can tell them, for sure, without fail, if you do it like this, you’ll stay alive. I don’t have that answer. The main message I have for youth is that we support you. We may not always understand you, we are all on the same side. It’s going to take all of what you’ve got and a little bit of what we’ve got to defeat this beast that we have ahead of us.

Anthony shared how he feels things are different right now and reiterated that it’s up to him, T.I., and other influencers to make sure they continue to work towards change.

“We’re dealing with a new, different breed of protestors who don’t know consequence, who don’t give a damn about consequence, who’s ready to go by any means necessary,” Carmelo said. “Even though everyone’s out there doing what we're doing, we're protesting, we standing up for what we believe in, we standing up for what’s right, we’re standing up against injustices, I don’t think people understand why people are protesting... I don't think they understand that this country was built on protests at the end of the day. We’ve protested to have this country to be what it is today... The people that are in power right now are abusing that... I don’t like tearing up our s***. I don’t like tearing up our communities, but there comes a time where we can’t tell people to stop at this very moment... We’ve got to be careful in what we say because we are the influencers in our community, which is the black community.”

What’s going on right now is different from past movements and this is how T.I. and Melo know:

“I’ve never seen a police station burn,” T.I. said, to which Anthony replied, “That’s when I knew s*** was real.”

What about T.I's. message? 

That’s what Melo wanted to know and wanted his friend to share with the world as Anthony mentioned he is still trying to figure out his message.

America has incredible debt to pay and the laws of reciprocity are in order. But, in order for the movement to make the most significant amount of impact, you’ve got to have an incredible amount of purpose and direction... I think if you lead with purpose and direction, I think you make more impact that way. -- T.I.

Melo continued to share his thoughts on what he can do, saying “it’s on us, as leaders to lead because we can’t rely on the leaders in place right now.”

Carmelo wants to make sure his voice and the voices of other black lives are being heard now and will continue to be heard.

“I think the smartest thing to do... Now that we’ve got their attention, we’ve got to start plotting because they want to shut s*** down. They’re going to do everything in their power to shut s*** down, shut us up. How do we come out of this as a black community?”

T.I. echoed that sentiment, saying people need to also show up at the polls and vote.

I hope that we can depend on justice…

We have all the power we need. We can build or destroy any business, any brand, any corporation. All we have to do is show united support or united disgust to any corporation or person and the power comes from our collective effort... It’s going to take all of what you’ve got to defeat this beast that we have ahead of us. It’s a dastardly machine with with clandestine intentions and I don’t think that my way alone is going to work and I don’t think your way alone is going to work. But together, collectively, we can work together to play each card when it’s time to with the appropriate amount of force, effort, energy and purpose. -- T.I.

Today, on June 2nd, Black Out Tuesday, we can all learn from Carmelo Anthony and T.I.’s discussion on this day of collective disconnect from work as we come together in support of the Black community.

Check out the entire episode of What’s in Your Glass right here.

Trail Blazers, Seahawks, Ducks, Beavers unite for Blackout Tuesday

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Black Lives Matter

Trail Blazers, Seahawks, Ducks, Beavers unite for Blackout Tuesday

Today, June 2nd, is Black Out Tuesday, a day of collective disconnect from work meant to help people reflect and come together in support of the Black community. It is a day promoted by activists to observe, mourn and bring about policy change.

The campaign is aimed at protesting police violence and racism as well as honoring George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police has sparked universal outcry and demonstrations in US cities and around the world.

Tuesday, Northwest sports teams and its athletes, both past and present stand against social injustice, racism and police brutality. 

Below is a running list of sports organizations, players and coaches who have shared the powerful message:

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#BlackoutTuesday 🙏🏽

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#blackouttuesday 🖤✊🏽

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✊🏾 #blackouttuesday

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#blackouttuesday Living in Europe with my wife and daughter, walking around, I feel like we live in a completely different world than North America right now. We walk outside everyday and get to enjoy our family time without any worries. However, my wife and I feel a small piece of guilt. Not for our happiness, but because we think “why do we get to live this way, while so many are living in fear right now? What can we do to help?” We discuss this issue everyday with each other and believe that using our social media platforms, it is a tool to spread awareness. This is the best way we can help right now, since we can’t protest or march because of where we live. I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD TO BE. We will get through this. We just have to stay unified, stay strong, and put our faith into God. He will always find the way for His people! ✊🏾🙏🏾

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#blackouttuesday ✊🏾✊🏾

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✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼 #blackouttuesday

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#BLACKOUTTUESDAY ✊🏾

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These last few days have not been the best, but we’ll get through. I look at the Instagram posts, Twitter posts, the comments on these places, the news, and it is obvious that this country is broken. People are fed up. Black people have broken the chains off of their people through waves of generations. This is our wave. This is the chain that must be broken in order to give a better future for the next generation. Let’s continue to stand together a month from now, a year from now, and so on and so forth. There’s a systemic war going on people, and we have to be smart about our next move once we let some of this steam out. Love all of y’all. Stay safe. And yes I’m bi-racial, but shittt stay black my brothers. 👊🏽 #blackouttuesday

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BLACK LIVES MATTER ✊🏾 #blackouttuesday

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Believe it ..#Blacklivesmatter #blackouttuesday

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We are all Human #blackouttuesday

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#blacklivesmatter #blackouttuesday 🖤

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♥️

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