As NBA teams make their way into the bubble in Orlando, Florida ahead of a three-week training camp before play resumes, the Trail Blazers won’t make the trip until Thursday.
The Blazers will land in Orlando around 7:00 p.m. local time and then will be subject to quarantine under the NBA’s bubble protocol.
Portland won’t practice until nearly 48 hours later.
Up to this point, the Blazers, along with the other 21 NBA teams set to restart the 2019-20 season, have held individual workouts only.
It’s not until teams step foot in the bubble that they will finally be able to practice together and have full-contact practices.
For the Trail Blazers, it will be a balancing act between making sure the players will be as close to game shape as possible, while also using the three-week camp to go over new schemes with the addition of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins.
We've had coaches meetings about how we want to develop our practices, how much to do early, how much to do late, how much to alternate hard practices. We're going to change some defensive concepts with the addition of Nurk and Zach, so there'll be teaching, a little bit more teaching some concepts defensively. The contact will work itself out. And the good thing is -- we've got three weeks of practice to build up. -- Blazers coach Terry Stotts
Stotts commended NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA on the protocols put in place before entering the bubble and upon entry.
“I think the league did a really good job of using these two weeks from a COVID standpoint and testing, and then having the three weeks of practice to get ready for a game,” Stotts said. “It's something you know when you talk about contact, we gotta get out and play, there's no question. But, we gotta make sure that we don't fall into a trap of trying to do too much too early.”
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].
The players and Coach Stotts are eager to finally get up and down the court as a group after participating in voluntary individual workouts two weeks ago, followed up by mandatory individual workouts over the past week.
“We haven't been that isolated in that we've seen everybody for the last two months, we've been at the practice facility. We've seen each other. So we haven't been isolated where we're not talking to people. The only contact we're missing is on the court.”
The Trail Blazers have been given a three-hour time slot for practices, but Coach Stotts says the first practice on Saturday will most likely run for two hours following the team being quarantined for the first day and a half in Orlando.
The Blazers will also have a weight room available as well.
Saturday will be the first day to hit the ground running both figuratively and literally.
“Not a lot of guys are doing much today,” Stotts said during Wednesday’s Zoom call. “Obviously, tomorrow's a travel day. The next day is a quarantine day, so it'll be essentially a minimum [of] two or three days that they haven't done anything, so we've mapped out our practice… I think it'll be good to get them out and play. We'll do some teaching... If the quarantine is over early enough, I'd like to have a meeting in the afternoon at the hotel and go over some video of some things that we've been working on. So, I think we have to kind of wait and see.”
One of the many concerns of returning to play has been that players haven't played a competitive game since March.
To combat that issue during the three-week training camp, each team will participate in inter-squad scrimmages from July 22-28, ahead of the NBA's resumption on July 30.
The NBA Season Restart Scrimmage Schedule!— NBA (@NBA) July 4, 2020
From July 22-28, participating teams will compete in three inter-squad scrimmages in final preparation for the resumption of the season on July 30. #WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/c27jDrsTQw
The Blazers will play three scrimmages:
- Thursday, July 23 vs. Indiana at 12:30 p.m. PT
- Sunday, July 26 vs. Toronto at 3:00 p.m. PT
- Tues, July 28 vs. Oklahoma City at 3:00 p.m. PT
The scrimmages will have the look and feel of a typical NBA game.
These games are not only looked at as being a dress rehearsal for the teams, but for the television broadcast crews as well to iron out any unforeseen kinks.
“The only thing I know about the scrimmages is that they're going to be games,” Stotts said. “They're going to be 48-minute games [with]referees. So it's not going to be an informal scrimmage... It's going to be conducted just like a regular game.”