Miami guard Bruce Brown heads to Blazers workout fueled by a memory

Miami guard Bruce Brown heads to Blazers workout fueled by a memory

CHICAGO – When Bruce Brown, who was a standout guard at the University of Miami, visits Portland in June for a draft workout with the Trail Blazers, there is a good chance a certain memory will be fueling him.

When he was 8 and living in Boston, he remembers huddling in the kitchen with his mom and two siblings

“She didn’t have enough money to get oil for the house,’’ Brown said of his mom. “So we had to open the oven for heat and had to sit by the oven for heat. That stuck with me. I want to get her out of that situation, and (the NBA draft) is a great opportunity.’’

Brown has piqued the interest of the Blazers because of his size (6-foot-5), and his defensive skills on the perimeter, which were shelved the final two months of this season after he broke his left foot. He says the foot has been fully cleared for the past two weeks.

Brown, who averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, says his versatility is his strong point and he said he has heard his game compared to that of Boston’s Marcus Smart.

“I can play both ends of the ball,’’ Brown said. “I can guard 1-through-3 and make three’s.’’

Make no mistake, though: Brown’s forte is defense. 

“I just know that’s what I do. Growing up I wasn’t the best offensive player, so I had to focus on defense and getting steals,’’ he said. “I just love getting stops and helping my team.’’

He said his focus leading up to the draft is to prove his left foot his healthy, but he said he was confident teams would see his physical strength and stamina. His 3.75 percent body fat was the lowest recorded at the NBA Combine and he said he completed 17 reps of the 185-pound bench press. 

“I definitely love the weight room,’’ Brown said. “I used to be a scrawny kid, skinny. But then I just fell in love with the weight room. I love the feeling of being sore.’’

Brown is projected to be a late first round or early second round pick. He said at the Combine that he met with Houston, the Clippers, Miami, Minnesota, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, Memphis and Toronto.

He said whichever team picks him will be getting a player that knows how to stoke his own fire. It happened earlier this season, when he was slumping. He thought about what his mother told him: Never forget where you came from.

So from upscale Coral Gables, where the University of Miami resides, Brown said he drove to Miami Gardens, which more resembled his gritty Boston neighborhood.

“I took a drive there and regained that feeling of where I came from,’’ Brown said. “I couldn’t go up to Boston, but it was just a way to see where I came from, the poorness of some of the areas. It grounded me, reminded me.’’

And come June 21, those memories will surface once again.

Why Damian Lillard is better to start a franchise with than Stephen Curry

Why Damian Lillard is better to start a franchise with than Stephen Curry

Both Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry are certainly in the conversation for being in the top-5 of point guards in the NBA right now.

Fans of both the Blazers and Warriors, as well as NBA experts around the league can all agree on that.

The timely argument of “who is better?" or "who has better range?" and so on has been going on now for years. That debate especially heats up anytime the two teams play each other. 

But, this time, the discussion continued without the two squaring off, and occurred between Bill Simmons and Ryan Russillo Monday on “The Bill Simmons Podcast.”

Simmons: "Dame -- I don't know where he is on the top-10 players in the league list and what the qualifications are -- but is Curry better than him at this point?"

Ryen Russillo: "Oh come on. Let's take it easy. Don't do this when Curry's missed a year."

Simmons: "I'm not talking about career. I'm not talking playoff chops (or) stuff like that. I'm just talking game-to-game, the stuff Dame is doing now consistently, reminds me of Curry. I feel like he's money. He's in the top eight or nine for me now. And I don't know what the list is. But I just think he's great."

Warriors fans are most likely losing their minds right now by what Bill Simmons is saying right now. “Lillard is NOT better than Curry right now, how can he say that?” Is already ringing in my ears right now.

But, doesn't Simmons have a point right now?

If we are talking about present day, this very moment, isn’t Lillard a better player and leader than Curry?

If one was going to start a franchise today, who would you rather have: Damian Lillard or Steph Curry?

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

My answer to that question, while potentially impartial, is Damian Lillard.

For starters, Steph Curry is a phenomenal basketball player and one can't take anything away from what he has brought to the game with his scoring ability and incredible streaks. But, Curry is also injury prone. 

Here's a breakdown of games missed from 2017-18 to 2019-20:

Damian Lillard: 19 games
Stephen Curry: 104 games

The Warriors superstar has only been available for 54.6 percent of his team’s regular-season games, compared to Lillard’s 91.7.

In 2020 (before the bubble), Lillard leads the league in minutes played (and No. 3 since 2017), and the other has played in 74 games over two seasons. 

Going even deeper, let’s look at the numbers stacked up between the two over the last three seasons:

Damian Lillard:
— 5,706 points (27.0 PPG)
— 1,485 assists (7.0 APG)
— 946 rebounds (4.5 RPG)
— 57.8 win percentage (122-89)
— 59.9 TS%
— 17.6 VORP (No. 5 in the NBA)

Stephen Curry:
— 3,227 points (26.6 PPG)
— 671 assists (5.6 APG)
— 630 rebounds (5.2 RPG)
— 75.2 win percentage (94-31)
— 65.1 TS%
— 9.3 VORP (No. 21 in the NBA)

If this argument is centered around who has had the most successful career so far based on accolades, then Curry holds the advantage. But the question Simmons asked, in the beginning, is “Curry better than him at this point?"

Over the past three seasons, Lillard has been more dominant, though.

When Stephen Curry is healthy, he's electric-- his game is fun to watch and his swagger is through the roof. 

But don't put Lillard in the same category as Curry, and that just doesn't hold water.

Curry “outplaying” Lillard during the 2019 Western Conference Finals as NBC Sports Bay Area illuminated is the argument Warriors fans will quickly jump on to counter the overall point. But when Lillard was smothered, double-teamed on a regular basis for obvious reasons, it's kind of hard to say that Curry “won” the battle against Lillard when the Warriors had more threats for the Blazers to key in on.

For most of the series, Klay Thompson (Lillard took 22 shots on him), and Draymond Green were the main players guarding Lillard. Curry only guarded Lillard for four shots. FOUR

Meanwhile, during that series, Lillard took to guarding Curry more than any Blazer.

If we look at the playoff numbers between the two since 2017-18, they are basically identical to a degree.

Playoffs numbers (since 2017-18):

Curry — 27.1 PPG | 5.6 APG | 6.0 RPG | .608 TS% | 37 GP

Lillard — 25.2 PPG | 6.3 APG | 4.7 RPG | .549 TS% | 20 GP

Lillard also has a killer instinct, closing out two playoff series with game winning shots. The Trail Blazers clutch gene is arguably better than that of the Warriors PG. 

The answer to Bill Simmons' question, “Is Curry better than him at this point?”

The answer is "No."

If the decision came down to starting a franchise with Damian Lillard or Steph Curry, with his recent play, how he has shaped the Blazers for playoff contention every year since 2013 and how he's remained healthy-- I'm taking Damian Lillard. 

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]

Report: Trail Blazers 'tried to persuade' Trevor Ariza to join the bubble

Report: Trail Blazers 'tried to persuade' Trevor Ariza to join the bubble

Damian Lillard has been adamant that the Portland Trail Blazers' trip to Orlando, Florida will be longer than playing two weeks of seeding games.

"Let’s not waste our f****** time out here," Lillard told his teammates ahead of the restart.

The Trail Blazers have gotten off a 1-1 start in Orlando and have looked like a completely different team thanks to the return of starters Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic

However, the Blazers haven't been at full strength because former-starting small forward Trevor Ariza decided to opt-out of the restart to instead commit to a one-month visitation window with his young son.

[RELATED]: Trevor Ariza will not join the Trail Blazers when NBA restarts-- here's why

But, that's not where that story ended.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, multiple members of the Blazers tried to "tried to persuade Trevor Ariza to reconsider joining them in the bubble" a few weeks ago.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Ariza's visitation period had been changed with a conclusion date of late August, so he could have played for Portland during a lot of the restart.

Haynes reports that "the possibility was explored" but he was told that Portland would have had to apply for a hardship waiver or a late-arrival form for Ariza to enter the bubble. Plus, the league likely would have denied that request even if it was made due to Ariza deciding to opt-out and his name being absent from the restart roster.

Trail Blazers players were reportedly "upset with the outcome." 

With Ariza's absence, the Blazers slid Carmelo Anthony down to the three, who has performed well, and had Gary Trent Jr. and Mario Henzonja come off the bench. Ariza would have been a great help against a team with elite wings like Boston, who Portland fell to on Sunday and the Los Angeles Clippers who Portland plays on Saturday. Plus, he would be the primary defender on LeBron James if Portland does make the postseason and plays the Lakers in the first round. 

Portland would sign G-League MVP runner-up Jaylen Adams, who averaged 21.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game during the 2019-20 season, as a replacement player instead. 

[RELATED]: Report: Trail Blazers to sign G-League MVP runner-up Jaylen Adams

Now, responding to the team's first loss in the restart, the Blazers are still focused on making the postseason to make a deep playoff run.

“I packed for the entire three months,” Lillard told Haynes. "We came here thinking 6-2, or 7-1 and that would get us in there. That’s where our heads are at and we can still do that.”

Currently, the Blazers are tied with San Antonio for the ninth seed in terms of games back to Memphis but have the tiebreaker due to winning and losing one more game than the Spurs before the season got suspended.

[RELATED]: Eye on the 8: What & who Blazers fans should be cheering for right now

“We’re just focusing on ourselves,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “I think if we handle our business, it will work out. We can’t be looking at what they’re doing and all that. We gotta worry about ourselves. We knew that it was a chance that we would lose a game. We lost one, but we can’t dwell on it. We got to go to the next one and try to put a string of wins together.”

The Blazers will play the Houston Rockets Tuesday night on NBC Sports Northwest at 6:00 p.m. PT. 

Eye on the 8: What & who Blazers fans should be cheering for right now

Eye on the 8: What & who Blazers fans should be cheering for right now

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Houston Rockets Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports NW.

Obviously, you should cheer for the Blazers to win if you want to see them in the postseason but how is the race for the eighth seed looking overall?

Let's break it down.

The Blazers enter Tuesday as the ninth seed in the Western Conference.

Memphis, which has lost all three games so far in the NBA's restart, still holds onto the eighth seed; however, their 3.5 game lead has dissolved to just 2.0 games. They will play the Utah Jazz at 10:30am PT on Wednesday, August 5.

Portland is tied with San Antonio for the ninth seed in terms of games behind Memphis, but holds the tiebreaker due to having played more games and having more wins before the season got suspended. The Spurs will take on the Denver Nuggets at 1pm on Thursday, August 5. 

New Orleans, which remains the favorite to make the eighth seed of the non-Memphis teams according to Vegas, is a 0.5 game behind Portland, but has a much easier strength of schedule the rest of the season. Next up, they will play the Sacramento Kings at 10:30am PT on Friday, August 6. 

Speaking of Sacramento, the Kings are a full (1.0) game behind Portland for the ninth seed and play the Dallas Mavericks at 11:30am PT Tuesday, August 4. 

Then, there's Phoenix, which is the only team fighting for the eighth seed to not lose a game yet in the restart defeating the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks. They are 1.5 games behind the Blazers and play the Clippers at 1:00pm PT on Tuesday, August 4. 

Important Games 08/04:

Portland Trail Blazers vs Houston Rockets: Line: HOU 4.0. Who you want to win: Portland

Sacramento Kings vs Dallas Mavericks: Line: DAL 6.0. Who you want to win: Dallas

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Clippers: Line: LAC 8.5. Who you want to win: Los Angeles

Best Case Scenario: Portland wins, Sacramento and Pheonix lose, Portland has a 0.5 game lead over the Spurs in sole possession of the No. 9 seed.

Worst Case Scenario: Portland loses, Sacramento and Phoenix both win, Portland falls to tenth tied with Sacramento and New Orleans, and only a half-game ahead of Phoenix. 

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

How to Watch & Stream Blazers vs. Rockets, coverage begins at 4:30pm

How to Watch & Stream Blazers vs. Rockets, coverage begins at 4:30pm

Get ready to see a lot of three-point attempts and most likely a lot of makes on Tuesday night as the Trail Blazers take on the Houston Rockets in Portland’s third seeding game.

The Blazers are looking to bounce back from Sunday’s 128-124 loss to the Celtics after Portland’s comeback fell just short behind Damian Lillard’s 30 points and 16 assists.  

You can catch Tuesday’s Blazers-Rockets showdown on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers with tip-off set for 6:00pm. Our coverage starts at 3:00pm with ‘Blazers Game Day’ followed by ‘Blazers Warm-up’ at 5:00pm and the Blazers Pregame Show at 5:30pm.  Be sure to stick around after the game for Blazers Postgame and Blazers Outsiders featuring DJ O.G. One!

Or if you can’t get to a TV, stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

Plus, for full coverage of Portland’s first seeding game make sure to follow Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team throughout the day. Follow us on social for the latest updates. 

Portland’s Remaining Seeding Games:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Houston Rockets 
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Denver Nuggets 
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. LA Clippers  
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Philadelphia 76ers 
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Dallas Mavericks 
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Brooklyn Nets 

Injury Reports: 

Blazers guard Jaylen Adams (low back pain) is probable for Tuesday’s game vs. Houston. 

The Celtics will be without Bruno Caboclo (Right Ankle; sprain) and Eric Gordon (Left Ankle; Sprain).

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

Quote of the Week: 

Portland put together a big-time, second half against the Celtics Sunday. The Blazers scored 38 points in each of the final two quarters, fueled by a 13-23 effort from long distance as they took the game down to the final seconds.  

If anything, we'll take away (that) we played extremely well in the second half against a really good team. 'We know what’s at stake. We don't have any time to have a hangover after a loss. – Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said following Sunday’s loss   

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers road to the playoffs, NBCSNW to carry all eight games 

Top Game Notes:

• Tuesday's meeting will mark the fourth and final game between the Trail Blazers and the Rockets during the 2019-20 season. Portland leads the season series, 2-1.

Last Meeting: The Trail Blazers defeated the Rockets on Jan. 29 at Moda Center, 125-112. Damian Lillard led Portland with the first triple- double of his career, finishing with 36 points (11-21 FG, 6-12 3-PT, 8-10 FT), 10 rebounds, 11 assists and one steal while Russell Westbrook led the Rockets with 39 points (16-29 FG, 1-3 3-PT, 6-6 FT), 10 rebounds and six assists.

Game of Guards: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are four of the 12 guards in the NBA that are averaging at least 22.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game this season.
 

• In three games against Houston this season, Damian Lillard has averaged 24.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 9.7 assists. He has scored at least 25 points in seven of his last 11 games against the Rockets.

CJ McCollum scored 22 points (9-19 FG, 1-7 3-PT, 3-7 FT) to go with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks against Houston on Jan. 29. He has scored at least 22 points in five straight games against the Rockets.

• In three games (all starts) against Houston last season, Jusuf Nurkic averaged 20.7 points (56.8% FG, 76.9% FT), 11.6 rebounds, 3.0 as- sists and 1.00 block. Nurkic has recorded a double-double in six of his last seven games against the Rockets.

James Harden had 18 points, five rebounds and four assists at Portland on Jan. 29. In three games against the Trail Blazers this season, he has averaged 22.3 points and 5.3 assists.

• In three games against Portland this season, Russell Westbrook has averaged 32.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists. He has scored at least 30 points in eight of his last 15 regular season games against the Trail Blazers dating back to the 2016-17 season. 

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[RELATED]: Eye on the 8: A look at Western Conference teams vying for playoffs

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers could have done a lot of other things with 6.8 seconds left Sunday

[RELATED]: Big Z's Bubble: Is Zach Collins a good bowler? Well, we know -- he's eager to earn DPOY

[RELATED]: Eye on the 8: The Trail Blazers will make the playoffs if... 

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers push for the postseason isn't getting easier

[RELATED]: Gary Trent Jr. has been a star in the bubble

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets betting odds revealed

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets betting odds revealed

As Portland prepares for its third game of the NBA restart Tuesday evening, the betting odds have been revealed for its game against Houston. 

The Trail Blazers are four (4.0) point undergods against the Houston Rockets in Ceasar's Casino, with 56% of bets taking the Blazers to cover, per The Action Network.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Other places have the line at 3.5 due to the betting in favor of Portland. It also opened at Houston by 5.0 in many casinos. 

Additionally, the over/under point total against Houston is 244.5. So far in the bubble, the Blazers have averaged 134 points per game while Houston has averaged 136.5. 

Since the return of center Jusuf Nurkic and forward Zach Collins in the bubble, the Trail Blazers have looked like a different team than the one who battled injuries all regular season. 

Speaking of Nurkic, his over/under for points scored against Houston is 18.5. He's scored 18 and 30 respectively in the bubble while averaging 24.0 points per game against Houston in his career. Expect Portland to give him plenty of opportunities to finish at the rim against the hyper-small Rockets. 

ESPN's BPI index has raised it's odds of Portland making the postseason from 9% to 13% after the first few days of the restart. 

Portland continues to be +400 in Westgate to be the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Gary Trent Jr. has been a star in the bubble

Gary Trent Jr. has been a star in the bubble

Gary Trent Jr. was relaxing in the Florida sunshine when we caught up with him Tuesday afternoon. Well, he admitted he was sweating a little, too.
But we had a lot of fun talking with him about his shooting prowess, his background as a player, his brief football career, his father’s influence and even a crazy statistic that he couldn’t believe we came up with.
(Hint: It ranked him alongside Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Klay Thompson).
I really enjoyed talking to the Trail Blazers’ emerging young talent, and I think you will have a good time listening to him in the videoes linked below.

Gary Trent is the 3-and-D player the Blazers have longed for

Gary Trent Jr. is about to join some very elite company

Gary Trent Jr. is a physical defender, and he learned it on the gridiron

Trent stepping up wherever the Blazers need him

Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].

 

 

Eye on the 8: A look at Western Conference teams vying for playoffs

Eye on the 8: A look at Western Conference teams vying for playoffs

It’s time for another ‘Eye on the 8’ with your one-stop-shop for everything surrounding the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as we take a look at the Trail Blazers road to the postseason as well as the other teams vying for a playoff berth. 

Through the first full weekend of NBA restart games, the Trail Blazers and Spurs are closing the gap on the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West, while Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans continue to lose ground.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]

   

The NBA's play-in games if necessary will be played on Aug. 15-16.

Which it looks like the play-in games are definitely going to happen.

How do the play-in games work??

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage, then the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage will earn the eighth and final playoff spot and no Play-In Game(s) would be needed.

Here’s a look at how each team who is battling for the final playoff spot out West is stacking up against each other heading into Monday’s slate of games:

Portland Trail Blazers

Seeding Games Record: 1-1

Overall Record: 30-38 (.441)

Current Title odds: +7500 

The Blazers were riding high after their win over Memphis, but the question now is: Will the Blazers run out of gas in these seeding games? Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are averaging over 43 minutes per game.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Grizzlies – Blazers WON, 140-135
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Celtics – Blazers LOST, 128-124
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Rockets 
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Nuggets 
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. Clippers  
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. 76ers 
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Mavericks 
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Nets 

San Antonio Spurs

Seeding Games Record: 2-0

Overall Record: 29-36 (.446)

Current Title Odds: +100000

Heading into the NBA restart, Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento were all three-and-a-half games behind the Grizzlies.

But now, after teams have played at least two games, the San Antonio Spurs have entered the conversation.

With the Spurs being discarded as a team not to make a push for the play-in games, DeMar DeRozan said not so fast.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Kings – Spurs WON, 129-120
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Grizzlies – Spurs WON, 108-106
  • Tuesday, Aug. 3 vs. 76ers
  • Thursday, Aug. 5 vs. Nuggets
  • Saturday, Aug. 7 vs. Jazz
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Pelicans
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Rockets 
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Jazz 

DeRozan was clutch in Sunday’s contest against the Grizzlies, knocking down two go-ahead free throws with a second left.

Through two games, DeRozan is averaging 20.5 points and 8.5 assists.

Two games in, and the Spurs have now jumped the Blazers for the ninth spot out West and are only two games back of Memphis.

San Antonio has been to the playoffs in 22 consecutive seasons, matching the longest streak in NBA history.

The Spurs are without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge who was second on the team in scoring (18.9 points) and first in rebounding (7.4).

Memphis Grizzlies

Seeding Games Record: 0-2

Overall Record: 32-35 (.478)

Current Title odds: +50000

The Trail Blazers and Spurs have already exposed how young and inexperienced this Grizzlies team is, especially when it comes to playoff experience.  

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Blazers – Grizzlies LOST, 140-135
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Spurs – Grizzlies LOST, 108-106
  • Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Pelicans
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5 vs. Jazz
  • Friday, Aug. 7 vs. Thunder
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Raptors
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Celtics
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Bucks

New Orleans Pelicans 

Seeding Games Record: 0-2

Overall Record: 28-38 (.424)

Current Title Odds: +5000

New Orleans has struggled out of the gate in Orlando.  

But, we know the NBA would love to get a LeBron James vs. Zion Williamson matchup in the first round. New Orleans was without their rookie superstar until last week when he returned to the Bubble after he left Orlando for a family emergency. 

Zion has been on a minutes restriction in the first two games, averaging 14.5 minutes per game. In the Pelicans' loss to the Clippers Saturday, Zion finished with seven points and five rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

Schedule: 

  • Thursday, July 30 vs. Jazz – Pelicans LOST, 106-104
  • Saturday, Aug. 1 vs. Clippers – Pelicans LOST, 126-103
  • Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Grizzlies
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Kings
  • Friday, Aug. 7 vs. Wizards
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Spurs
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Kings
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Magic

The Pelicans have given up 54 points off turnovers in their first two games.

Phoenix Suns

Seeding Games Record: 2-0

Overall Record: 28-39 (.418)

Current Title Odds: +50000 

The Suns just barely made it to the NBA restart and now they’re making some noise in the bubble.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Wizards – Suns WON, 125-112
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Mavericks – Suns WON, 117-115
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Clippers
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Pacers
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. Heat
  • Sunday, Aug. 10 vs. Thunder
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. 76ers
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Mavericks 

Phoenix proved they can come from behind and beat a playoff team when the Suns rallied to beat the Mavericks Sunday thanks to their 36-point third quarter. In the win, Devin Booker finished with 30 points.  

Sacramento Kings

Seeding Games Record: 0-2

Overall Record: 28-38 (.424)

Current Title Odds: +125000

Sacramento was playing its best basketball of the season once they returned from the All-Star break. They won seven of 10 games to insert themselves just 3.5 games back of the eighth seed.  

But the NBA’s seeding games has been more of a challenge for the Kings. Maybe the long layoff has proved to be too much for Sacramento.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Spurs – Kings LOST, 129-120
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Magic – Kings LOST, 132-116
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Mavericks
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Pelicans
  • Saturday, Aug. 7 vs. Nets
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Rockets
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Pelicans
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Lakers 

In the Kings' bubble opener, point guard De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points and Sacramento still wasn’t able to get past the Spurs.

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Make sure to keep it locked here at our website and follow us on social media as we keep you up-to-date on all the Western Conference teams making a push for the playoffs.  

We’ve got our eye on that eight seed! 

Trail Blazers could have done a lot of other things with 6.8 seconds left Sunday

Trail Blazers could have done a lot of other things with 6.8 seconds left Sunday

Just one more look back at that Trail Blazer possession with 6.8 seconds to play Sunday and no timeouts left.

But keep in mind, even if Portland would have somehow managed to hit a three-pointer there, it would just merely have tied the game and still left the Celtics a chance to win it. And the Trail Blazers weren't getting many defensive stops when they needed them. But I firmly believe that getting a three there was a must. Without a timeout, getting the ball back, advancing it up the court and then scoring is too difficult.

But a few things to point out:

  • Damian Lillard could have taken more time before unloading the ball. I realize there was concern about being fouled before taking a three, but you have to live with that. It didn't appear Boston had any interest in doing so or they would have gotten him immediately.

  • I understand Jusuf Nurkic is now shooting threes with some degree of accuracy, but I’m not sure I would have had him on the floor in that situation. Zach Collins or Anfernee Simons, who has yet to play a minute in Orlando, might have been more of a threat from distance.

  • That said, if Nurkic had just stayed behind the three-point line, he’d have had a wide-open shot at a three, or Gordon Hayward would have had to leave Gary Trent open to contest Nurkic’s shot. Which would have meant Trent -- probably the team's best three-point shooter these days -- would have had an open look.

  • It didn’t seem as if the Trail Blazers had a play ready after Hayward made his two foul shots to push the Boston lead back to three. There were still three seconds left, which should have been enough time to get off a decent shot. Three seconds usually means two dribbles and a shot, so it wasn’t necessary to throw a pass the length of the court. Hitting Lillard (or Trent or CJ McCollum) somewhere near halfcourt and giving one of them a long three would have been cool.

But, of course, they don’t give you do-overs. What happened, happened. And getting a stop or not having so many scoreless possessions late in the game would have helped, too.

The big thing now is to not let that game cost them the next one. There were big minutes played by key players and in a loss, that seems to have a bigger impact than in a win.

The schedule doesn’t get easier, either, with Houston up next.

In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t going to be easy.

Trail Blazers push for the postseason isn't getting easier

Trail Blazers push for the postseason isn't getting easier

Down 24 with less than four minutes before halftime, the Trail Blazers looked like they were headed for a demoralizing blowout. Portland’s porous defense had few answers for a hot-shooting Boston Celtics team that appeared primed to run away with one.

Yet despite the early onslaught from Jayon Tatum and the rest of the Celtics rangey wings, the Blazers didn’t buckle. Instead Damian Lillard donned his cape, emerging from the halftime locker room as the hero that has saved the Blazers hopes on countless occasions. 

The heroics just weren't quite enough. Lillard scored 22 of his team-high 30 points in the final two quarters and not only brought the Blazers back from a massive deficit he even propelled them to a late lead before the Celtics regrouped and held on for a win. Portland had four possessions to tie or take the lead inside the final two minutes and came up short on all of them.

“We dug ourselves a deep hole against a really good team,” Lillard said. “Any time you do that your chance of winning is going to be pretty slim. I think we showed we’re here for business by how we responded, and how we gave ourselves a chance to win. At this point that’s all we can ask for. We didn’t play a very good first half, and we could’ve easily have folded and laid down and just said, ‘It’s a bad day.’ But we didn’t do that.”

If the win over Memphis on Friday was a glimpse of what might be possible for the Blazers playoff push, Sunday’s loss to the Celtics was a sobering reminder of how difficult their path forward remains.

Heading into the NBA restart in Orlando Lillard was vocal that all he wanted was for his team to have a legitimate chance. They got that, and on Sunday Lillard tried his best to make sure the Blazers didn’t waste the opportunity.

After winning their first seeding game Friday, the Blazers were in control of their own postseason destiny. But with their loss Sunday and a San Antonio victory, Portland has now slipped to tenth place in the West with more obstacles between them and a playoff berth.

The loss to the Celtics was a clear illustration of the Blazers flaws and as well as their strengths. Lillard was magnificent, Jusuf Nurkic continues to be an anchor on both ends and Gary Trent Jr. seems to get better each time he steps on the court. And yet there they were down 24 unable to slow down one of the best teams in the league. With games looming against Houston, Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia, the schedule isn’t going to soften up.

This team has the talent to forge a path to the postseason, and Sunday was evidence of the challenges that path will no doubt pose.