Trail Blazers drop Game 1 to Warriors, 'We did this to ourselves'

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Trail Blazers drop Game 1 to Warriors, 'We did this to ourselves'

OAKLAND -- Was it Game 1 jitters or did fatigue play a role in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 22-point loss Tuesday evening at Oracle Arena?

After battling the Denver Nuggets and coming away with a Game 7 victory on Sunday, the Blazers flew directly to Oakland to prepare for the Warriors. They looked gassed and for good reason.

“Having played a tough emotional game two nights ago, that could play into it but I don’t think anybody will use that as an excuse,” coach Terry Stotts said following the 116-94 loss.

The postseason has been an emotional rollercoaster for the Trail Blazers. Dramatic come from behind victories, buzzer beater shots and an extremely emotional finally on the road in Denver looked like it took its toll.

“I mean, obviously it’s a difficult physically, you know, and a little bit emotional just because you’re excited about being in the Western Conference Finals,” Lillard told a packed media room following the loss. “You win seven games, got one on the road and you’re excited about that and you have to come straight here right from Denver and start prep and get ready for the best team in the league right now.”

With hardly any recovery time and not even a day to gameplan, Portland looked disorganized and sluggish at times.

They’re starting backcourt shot a combined 11-for-31 from the floor. Their bigs didn’t even show on high screens while Steph Curry and Klay Thompson launch without challenge.

“Yeah, that was very poor execution, you know, defensively on our part,” Lillard added. “Just having our bigs back that far; understanding the team we are playing against, they are not going to shoot mid-range jumpers and try to attack the rim.”

Coming off a series against a Nuggets team that runs their entire offense through center Nikola Jokic takes a completely different strategy than defending two of the greatest perimeter shooters to ever play the game. With a month to prepare, Portland would still be in trouble.

“You can prepare, in terms of going over certain things and tendencies they like to do, but a lot of it is just basketball,” C.J. McCollum said. “They make good basketball plays. Moving without the ball, their role players are constantly setting screens, their bigs are constantly looking and guys that can’t shoot, don’t shoot. That’s why they are so successful.”

Golden State has raised the Championship banner two straight years and three of the last four. Not only are they extremely talented, they have a massive advantage in experience that will be difficult for any team to overcome.

Portland hasn’t been in this situation before and it showed in game one. They shot just 36.1 percent from the floor. They turned the ball over 21 times. They allowed the Warriors to shoot 50 percent from the field and 51.5 percent from long range. You can’t beat the champs with these types of stats.

With just a day of recovery and still no trip home, the Blazers have to find a way to mentally and physically overcome some tremendous obstacles if they hope to make a series out of this.

“We did this to ourselves,” McCollum added. “We went to a seven game series and that’s what happens. You got to travel, your back is against the wall a little bit and they were able to take care of business in six games, so they were able to get a little bit more rest. No excuses, we got to be ready to play on Thursday.”

As the old adage goes, a playoff series never truly begins until the road team wins a game. With just a day to make adjustments and recover, Portland is in a tough spot. The Trail Blazers might need a huge boost from their home crowd over the weekend if they hope to avoid a quick out.


Will you hear Zach Collins talking trash in Orlando? Yep, probably loud and clear!

Will you hear Zach Collins talking trash in Orlando? Yep, probably loud and clear!

Zach Collins doesn’t back down to anyone.  

We’ve all seen it -- that look in his eye when someone is coming at him on the court both literally and figuratively.

Klay Thompson has definitely seen it.

It’s that mentality of 'don’t mess with me or any of my teammates' that has earned Collins much love and respect from his teammates and Trail Blazers fans.

And, it’s probably fair to deem Collins a professional trash talker.

Now, his words could be on full display in the unusual Orlando bubble setting.

The NBA is still exploring how television broadcasts will look and sound with no fans in attendance.

But, we have to imagine that even with fake crowd noise pumped in and/or music being played at the arena, there’s still a much better shot of hearing players on the court with no fans in the crowd.

YEP. We are about to hear ALL the trashing talking.  

“It's honestly something I think about all the time, actually,” Collins said with a big smile during Thursday’s Zoom call.

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

The third-year player, who says his left shoulder ‘feels great,’ is not only healthy enough to play in Orlando, but he’s also prepared to let the world hear all of his typical trash talking.  

Collins continued, “Not even just for me, but like, there's definitely things said on the court that are not for the faint of heart, for sure… It's gonna be interesting to see how the NBA handles that. I watched the UFC came back and they had no fans and you can hear everything... You can hear the guys in the ring like every hit, you know, everything. So I think it's going to be something similar and I don't know how it's going to be on TV, but obviously, when we're on the court together -- we might be able to hear the other team's time out in the huddle unless they put music on or something, I don't know. So it'll be very interesting to see how they handle it. It's definitely something to think about.”

[RELATED]: A healthy Zach Collins says, 'We know we have a shot to win a title' 

Does this unique situation mean Collins is going to ratchet back his trash talking?


Not even a little bit; well, maybe.

I'm not going to change. So y'all might hear some pretty vulgar language coming out of my mouth, but, you know, I don't know. I don't know. We'll see. I'll try to play it by ear. I don't want to change how I play and how I talk. But, we'll see. -- Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins

It sounds like Zach’s mom might need to brace herself for this restart.

Honestly though, hearing Collins bad-mouth his opponents here and there won’t be a surprise to most.

But, Big Z did mention that Anfernee Simons could shock some folks with how vocal he can be.  

“I think honestly you might hear Anfernee more than you would think, especially with no background noise. He's going to be a little bit louder... I think especially for you guys, you guys watch us so closely and are there all the time -- practices, games. So I think you guys have a pretty good idea of who was a talker, who's not. But I think the whole world or kind of get a chance to see who communicates and who talks trash on the court the most. Yeah, so we'll see. It'll be interesting.”

Interesting indeed!

This is definitely an extra layer to the NBA restart that we are all waiting to hear. 

Zach Collins says he has 'no limitations' with left shoulder

Zach Collins says he has 'no limitations' with left shoulder

The NBA hiatus was a blessing in disguise for Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins.

The 2019-20 season, Collins' third season in the league, was supposed to be a season that saw Zach Collins starting at the four and him showcasing his improved patience on the defensive end while also taking a bigger leap forward in the scoring department as well.  

But then, he played in just two and a half games, basically.

Rewind to Oct. 27th in the third game of the 2019-20 season when the Blazers visited the Dallas Mavericks. Collins got tangled up with Luka Doncic when they both went for a rebound with 2:01 left in the third quarter.

That’s when it happened. Collins came down holding his dislocated left shoulder.

The 7-footer shared an update on his shoulder during a Thursday Zoom call.

“It feels normal. It feels like a regular shoulder, so I’m good.”

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

After some deliberation with team doctors and his family, Collins and the Blazers both decided it was best for Collins to have shoulder surgery when looking at the long-term plan of the young 21-year-old's career.

Collins had successful surgery to repair his left labrum on Nov. 5 and was then to be re-evaluated in approximately four months. 

Now fast-forward through a nearly three-month NBA layoff and Collins has been cleared to play with an expectation that he won't have any minutes restriction either. 

The shoulder feels great. No limitations. I have had no reason to believe that it will hold me back from doing anything. I feel pretty normal on the court like the surgery didn’t even happen, so I’m ready to go. -- Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins 

Due to the COVID-19/NBA protocols, Collins and the rest of the Blazers have only been able to do individual workouts and thus Collins hasn’t gone through a full-contact workout yet. But, he has tested his shoulder in the weight room and with flexibility tests.

[RELATED]: Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are back and the Trail Blazers are PUMPED

During his individual workouts, Collins says he has been getting up a lot of shots and working on his conditioning.

“Once we get to Orlando, hopefully we’ll hit the ground running and be as close to game shape as possible,” Collins added.

The 22 teams will travel to Orlando from July 7-9. Once teams are quarantined in the Walt Disney World bubble they will begin team practices during a three-week training camp. 

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers return to play schedule in Orlando released

Wednesday, Blazers coach Terry Stotts mentioned that Jusuf Nurkic is in the best shape that he’s seen from him over the past few years.  

“I think physically, it’s the best I’ve seen [Nurkic] look,” Stotts said. “He has good muscle tone, he doesn’t look thin, he looks strong. I don’t know what his body-fat [percentage] is, but honestly, from a physical standpoint, it’s the best I’ve seen him.”

And if he does say so himself, Collins is feeling good about his body right now too.

I'm sitting between 245 and 250 pretty consistently every day. And that's, that's about where I was when I got injured. I was probably a little heavier when I got injured. I wasn't exactly in the best game shape yet, but I was probably the same. And now I'm sitting at 245 to 250. I feel a lot stronger everywhere... I definitely don't feel light or skinny or anything. I feel good. – Zach Collins

Heading into this season, with the Trail Blazers planning on starting Collins at power forward, he was all-in on that plan.

And now with Trevor Ariza opting out of going to Orlando, the expectation is Carmelo Anthony will move over to the starting small forward role.

That leaves the four spot open for Collins.

“If I do play a lot at the four, it’s going to be a lot more perimeter orientated,” Collins said last summer. “I never really want to get away too much from being inside and being effective inside. But, if I can find playing time at the four, then I’m all for it, and I’m going in and I’m going to attack that and try to be the best four I can be. If I’m the five, same thing.”

Let the big summer of Big Z begin. 

A healthy Zach Collins says, 'We know we have a shot to win a title'

A healthy Zach Collins says, 'We know we have a shot to win a title'

The Trail Blazers obviously face an uphill battle in Orlando when the NBA returns to play in a month.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of confidence on a team that once thought, prior to injuries, it was going to be in the race for a championship.

Injuries heal, though, and the Trail Blazers’ confidence is high. One of those injured players, Zach Collins, figures to reclaim his starting power-forward spot in Orlando, fully healed from a shoulder injury during the season’s third game.

And he says his squad is supremely confident.

“We know we have a shot to win a title, regardless of seeding,” Collins said Thursday during a Thursday online conversation with media. “We’re confident, man.

“The fact that we have had a very trying -- not me, I wasn’t playing through it -- our team has had a very tough year, as far as injuries, and wins and losses.

“The fact that we still have a chance, I think everybody is super excited. Along with that, me and Nurk coming back is going to be huge.”

Certainly it will be very important. 

But keep in mind, the road just to get into the 16-team playoff field is going to be a rough one.

The Trail Blazers will need to keep pace with Memphis, while fighting off the New Orleans Pelicans. Portland has six plus-.500 teams on its eight-game seeding schedule and the Pels have just two.

But if the Blazers can stay within four games of Memphis and edge out New Orleans, they will earn the right to face the Grizzlies in a play-in series.

Portland would then have to beat Memphis twice in a row while the Grizzlies would need just one win over the Trail Blazers.

Keep in mind, this is all in Orlando, where there will be no homecourt, Moda Center, advantage.

And even if that is accomplished, all it likely earns Portland is a best-of-seven, first-round playoff series against LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers.

And everyone knows how difficult the Western Conference playoffs can be, even if the Lakers could somehow be vanquished.

“I wish Rodney (Hood) could be out there with us, that would make us even more dangerous, obviously,” Collins said. “But the team we have now, the guys who had to step up and play big minutes this year, they just got so much experience and got so much better.

“And now we’re going to come back as close to full strength as possible without Rodney. We’re just super confident.


Lamar Hurd celebrates Kevin Calabro, says he stood ‘for people who need his voice’

Lamar Hurd celebrates Kevin Calabro, says he stood ‘for people who need his voice’

After joining the Portland Trail Blazers in 2016, play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro stepped down on Wednesday.

The move, which Calabro called an opportunity to “hit the pause button and coast a little,”came as a surprise to fans in Rip City who will miss the legendary voice on the Blazers call. 

But perhaps no one will miss Calabro more than Lamar Hurd, who has been calling games on the Trail Blazers sideline with Calabro since 2016-17 season.

[RELATED: Let's re-live some of Kevin Calabro's most memorable play calls]

In a thread on social media Wednesday, Hurd recounted a time in 2016 when Ernie Johnson and the TNT crew requested to interview Calabro about his return to an NBA team. Calabro insisted the only way he would do the interview would be if his partner, Hurd, could also be part of the interview. TNT accepted and the duo did the interview side by side.  

Then of course they had many memories: on the team plane, media room, and even a diversity/equity/inclusion class. According to Hurd, Calabro “stood and still stands for people who need his voice.”

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

Like Hurd, NBCSNW Trail Blazers reporter Jamie Hudson shared a special moment with Calabro when he joined The Scoop podcast back in January 2019. The two took a trip down memory lane and reflected on Calabro’s 20-plus years on the call for the SuperSonics.

After years of phenomenal calls like the Dame “bad shot” over OKC, Calabro leaves Rip City better than he found it. He will be missed in Portland!   

[RELATED: Jaynes: Kevin Calabro: The Trail Blazers 'have taken great care of us']

Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are back and the Trail Blazers are PUMPED

Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are back and the Trail Blazers are PUMPED

Since March 6, when it was first reported that Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic was set to make his return following nearly a year-long rehab, Blazers fans have been anticipating the moment of seeing Nurk step on the court once again.   

And instead of Nurkic lacing up his shoes to take on the Houston Rockets in front of the home crowd at Moda Center on Mar. 15, the coronavirus pandemic hit and the NBA was suspended.

But now, with the NBA returning to action in Orlando, Florida at the end of the month, Nurkic along with Zach Collins will be returning to the court.

There's plenty of excitement and anticipation from the Trail Blazers as the two 7-footers get set to return.

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

Damian Lillard wouldn’t share too many details on Portland’s newly-added secret weapons, but judging by the smile on his face during Wednesday’s Zoom call, it’s apparent he couldn’t be happier to get his two teammates back.

They look great. They make me feel way more confident going in just from seeing them -- both of them. Like I forgot, I didn’t forget, but I forgot who they were. Like it's been so long that I almost forgot… You’ve just got to see, man. I can’t share these things. -- Damian Lillard on Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins

Blazers coach Terry Stotts added “they both look great… Zach is 100 percent cleared. He looks great. He’s been working out… Zach will be able to play this season without any limitations.”

Coach Stotts doesn’t believe Nurkic or Collins will be on any type of minutes restriction when the team begins play in Orlando. 

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers return to play schedule in Orlando released

It was on March 25, 2019 when Nurk suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula late in a home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Prior to the injury, the Trail Blazers big man averaged 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, both of which were career-highs.

As for Collins, he had successful surgery to repair his left labrum on Nov. 5. 

He was then to be re-evaluated in approximately four months.

And now with the NBA’s long layoff, the Blazers feel confident that bringing back their two big men will be even more advantageous since they won’t be the only players needing to shake off some rust.  

Lillard said, “I think it really helps that everybody is coming back rusty, for one. Nobody’s been playing. You know, our team is really familiar with each other, and I think that just the fact that our starting four and five are coming back from injuries... They’re coming back into a situation where everybody’s in the same boat, so it’s more comfortable. I think it’ll be a little bit more seamless for them. And I think that’s good for our team. So, once we do start playing I think we’ll be able to get it going pretty quick."

Stotts says he is still playing out different starting lineups in his head, saying, “I haven’t ruled out starting Hassan [Whiteside] and Nurk together.”

Think about that starting lineup for a moment:

  1. Damian Lillard
  2. CJ McCollum
  3. Carmelo Anthony
  4. Hassan Whiteside
  5. Jusuf Nurkic

That’d be a big lineup.

Whiteside has already pushed for the twin towers idea.

Melo posts up 80% of the time, so it’s not going to be a spacing issue or anything. I think we’ll be a force out there. Even when we’re in a game, I think we can play minutes together and then we can rotate in and out.  -- Trail Blazers big man Hassan Whiteside on playing alongside Jusuf Nurkic

There’s no doubt that these two bigs have different games.

Both will alter shots at the rim, but of course, Whiteside is the better shot-blocker.

Nurkic is more of a facilitator than Whiteside on the other end allowing Lillard to play more off the ball in the pick-and-roll.

Whiteside does have four more years in the league on Nurkic. Hassan had no problem comparing his game to Nurk's back in March. 

He’s more a pitching big. He passes the ball a little more. He’s more at the free throw line area with his pitches and passes and stuff. I’m more in the paint and under the rim. I’ve been shooting threes a little bit, but I’m more of a guy who likes to get straight to the Baja. -- Hassan Whiteside explaining the difference between his game and Jusuf Nurkic’s game

Nurkic’s “pitches and passes” will be key.

And Coach Stotts agrees.

“We’ve definitely missed Nurk’s passing for sure,” Stotts said Wednesday. “Dame and CJ really had to work hard for their points, and I think with [Nurk's] passing both out of the post and on our spacing sets that’s going to make things a little bit easier… Dame and Nurk’s pick and roll was one of the best in the league for the last couple of years. So, that’s going to be an important part of our offense.”  

And at the other end of the floor, there’s no doubt these two bigs will quickly make an impact.

“One of the things we are going to be better at with the addition of Nurk and Zach is we are going to have more paint protection," Stotts added. "We are going to be a better rebounding team. And I don’t know how much it comes down to necessarily individual defense as much as it does to being a better defensive team."

Portland fans have been chomping at the bit to see a healthy Nurk and Collins.

And so have the Blazers.

“I think everybody is looking forward to what they both bring,” Stotts said. “They have both been out a long time, and both are anxious to get on the court, so they both will have a lot of energy. I think that is going to be contagious.”

As if thinking about getting Nurk back after seeing him sidelined for more than a year isn’t exciting enough, Coach Stotts offered up this salivating nugget on Nurkic:

“I think physically, it’s the best I’ve seen him look. He has good muscle tone, he doesn’t look thin, he looks strong. I don’t know what his body-fat [percentage] is, but honestly, from a physical standpoint, it’s the best I’ve seen him.”

Is the best Beast yet to come? That's intriguing. 

Also, is it July 31 yet? 

2020 NBA Season Restart: Teams, format, schedule, location, and odds

2020 NBA Season Restart: Teams, format, schedule, location, and odds

The Trail Blazers and 21 other teams will be back in action before we know it as the NBA prepares to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Florida in its pursuit to crown a champion. 

The NBA's restart plan is slated for July 30th, as 22 of the league's 30 teams will head to Orlando later this month to continue a season that was halted March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Trail Blazers first game will be on July 31st vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. (See below for full schedule)

Here's what you need to know for the NBA's return:

When does the NBA season resume?

After what will be a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA's schedule for restarting the 2019-20 season will begin July 30 with 22 teams competing for the NBA championship.

Seeding games will take place from July 30-Aug. 14. Play-in tournaments are scheduled for Aug. 15-16. The NBA playoffs will begin Aug. 17.

What is the return to play format?

The 22 teams in Orlando will include the 16 clubs currently in a playoff spot -- eight from the Eastern Conference and eight from the Western Conference -- and six additional teams within six games of the No. 9 seed in their respective conference.

Each team will play eight "seeding games" to determine playoff seeding in each conference. Those games will be selected from each team's remaining regular-season matchups.

What does this mean for the Trail Blazers?

The Trail Blazers currently sit in 9th place in the Western Conference, 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies in the eight-spot. The Trail Blazers have the 5th toughest schedule among the 22 teams competing and the toughest among the teams vying for the 8th seed. Here’s how the Blazers schedule stacks up against the other playoff hopefuls.

The Trail Blazers schedule is tough, but they are hopeful with the return of Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic in the lineup.

Which teams will be playing in Orlando?

The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards will represent the Eastern Conference.

In the Western Conference, it will be the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns.

For the Trail Blazers, both Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan will NOT be joining the team in Orlando for personal reasons. 

To assist in their efforts, the Trail Blazers signed Jaylen Adams from the G-League.

2020 NBA League Schedule

Here is the Blazers’ full schedule 

for the team's eight seeding-round games, beginning with a July 31 matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies:

NBCSNW will carry all-eight seeding games

Updated odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship

L.A. Lakers: +240
Milwaukee Bucks: +250
L.A. Clippers: +333
Houston Rockets: +1200
Boston Celtics: +2000
Toronto Raptors: +2200
Denver Nuggets: +2500
Philadelphia 76ers: +2800
Miami Heat: +3000
Utah Jazz: +3300
Dallas Mavericks: +4000

Portland Trail Blazers +15000
All other teams have +10000 odds or worse

The New Orleans Pelicans are chosen as the team most likely to make the postseason as a team from the outside looking in at (+275). That's partially because the casino expects the public to want to bet on Zion Williamson, one of the league's most marketable young stars, and a much-easier strength of schedule. 

The remaining odds for the eighth seed in the West are the Sacramento Kings at (+1200) who are 3.5 games behind Memphis currently, San Antonio (+5000) who sits four games behind Memphis but lost LaMarcus Aldridge for the season, the Pheonix Suns (+20000) who are six games behind Memphis and the Dallas Mavericks (+50000) who are currently 7 games ahead of the Grizzlies in the standings. 

As for winning the NBA Finals, the Blazers are seen as an extreme longshot at +15000, which is twice as high odds than they had earlier this month at Ceasars Palace.

Rodney Hood is dunking on more than his rehab  

Rodney Hood is dunking on more than his rehab  

We’ve seen Rodney Hood throw down some pretty nasty dunks as a Trail Blazer. 

But perhaps his best dunk yet came on Wednesday, when the Trail Blazers small forward dunked in practice for the first time (at least on video) since suffering a torn Achilles in December. 

In an 11-second clip shared by the Trail Blazers, Hoodie goes up for the dunk, hangs on the rim, and then comes down, turns around with a huge grin, and raises his hands to the roof while his teammates and training staff applaud him. 

Hood’s progression garnered praise from CJ McCollum and Gary Trent Jr. on Twitter. 

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

There are few things that make us happier than seeing Hoodie back on the hardwood and dunking. 

Six months after he was carried off the court with a ruptured Achilles, Hood returned to the practice facility on June 11, then again on June 23. Trail Blazers big Jusuf Nurkic posted a speculative tweet with the message, “Are Hoodieeee playing in Orlando?” 

Unfortunately, the Portland veteran wing won’t be ready to return to the floor when the Trail Blazers head to the Orlando bubble to resume the NBA season. His target date is expected to be September. 

For now, Hoodie is focused on small victories and dunking again is certainly something worth celebrating.  

[RELATED: Rodney Hood uses down time in rehab to finish his degree at Duke]

Let's re-live some of Kevin Calabro's most memorable play calls

Let's re-live some of Kevin Calabro's most memorable play calls

Portland Trail Blazers Television Play-By-Play announcer Kevin Calabro stepped down Wednesday after four years with the Trail Blazers. 

“It was a very tough decision,” Calabro told NBCSNW’s Dwight Jaynes Wednesday. “But all these years of travel, of being away, this is a good time to bring the focus back to my family.”

Calabro joined the Trail Blazers in June 2016 after spending 21 years as the longtime voice of the Seattle SuperSonics. 

While Calabro’s time on the Trail Blazers sideline was short, fans will always remember him for his legendary calls, including the Damian Lillard “bad shot” over OKC.

Let’s take a look back at some unforgettable calls from Kevin Calabro. 


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

Hassan Whiteside isn't one of the league's best defenders, according to NBA coaches

Hassan Whiteside isn't one of the league's best defenders, according to NBA coaches

The Trail Blazers defense has struggled at times this season, but one person has been a standout from day one: Hassan Whiteside. 

Whiteside, who came over in an offseason trade with the Miami Heat, has done an incredible job filling in for the injured Jusuf Nurkic all season.

His very first night as a Blazer was a 16 point, 19 rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets on opening night. 

From there, he just kept climbing. 

Whitside is statistically having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 16.3 points and career-highs of 14.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.

Whiteside is the league's second-leading rebounder, trailing only Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons (15.2 rpg).

But where he is most untouchable is defensively at the rim. 

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

Whiteside leads the entire league in blocks per game at 3.1. That is nearly a full block more than the two players tied for second, Anthony Davis and Brook Lopez (2.5 bpg). 

Whiteside has 187 blocks on the season, compared to 147 for Lopez and 138 for Davis. Both Lopez and Whiteside have played 61 games, while Davis has played 55. 

Regardless, you think the league's second-leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker would be recognized for their defensive prowess, right? You'd be wrong. 

Jon Krawczynski and Josh Robbins of The Athletic anonymously polled 33 NBA coaches, some head coaches, some assistant coaches, to get their expert opinions. 

The coaches had to vote for the first-team and second-team all-league defensive teams, while 23 of the coaches also voted on Defensive Player of the Year. 

The only rule was they had to vote for two guards, two forwards, and one center for the all-league teams. 

So, where did Whiteside fall?

He fell all the way out of the coaches consciousness. 

Whiteside did not earn first of second-team All-League Defense, he also was not named Defensive Player of Year. 

The really surprising part, however, is that Whiteside didn't even receive a single vote for any of the lists. 

How can the league's leading blocker not even receive a vote for All-League defense? 

According to the coaches' vote, Rudy Gobert was the Center on the first-team, and Bam Adebayo was the Center on the second team. Other centers receiving votes included Brook Lopez, Joel Embiid, Myles Turner, Tristan Thompson, Steven Adams, Andre Drummond, Jarrett Allen, and Domantas Sabonis. 


As for the Defensive Player of the Year, the coaches picked Rudy Gobert, with Brook Lopez and Bam Adebayo being the only other centers to receive votes. 

Here is how Whiteside compares to those three centers:

HASSAN WHITESIDE: 16.3 ppg, 14.2 rpg (10.2 drpg), 3.1 bpg

RUDY GOBERT: 15.1 ppg, 13.7 rpg (10.3 drpg), 2.0  bpg

BAM ADEBAYO: 16.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg (8.0 drpg), 1.3  bpg

BROOK LOPEZ: 11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg (3.8 drpg), 2.4  bpg

Whiteside averages more points (though that doesn't matter for defense), rebounds, and blocks than the three centers that made the list. The only category any of those centers beat Whiteside in is defensive rebounds, where Gobert averages 0.1 more per game... 0.1! 

When averaged out to a per 36, Whiteside leads in all categories.

HASSAN WHITESIDE PER 36: 18.7 ppg, 16.4 rpg (11.8 drpg), 3.5 bpg

RUDY GOBERT PER 36: 17.9 ppg, 14.5 rpg (10.2 drpg), 2.6 bpg

BAM ADEBAYO PER 36: 17.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg (8.3 drpg), 1.4 bpg

BROOK LOPEZ PER 36: 14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg (5.1 drpg), 3.3 bpg

However, Whiteside lags behind all three of those players in overall defensive rating: Lopez (99.1), Gobert (106.8), Adebayo(107.7), Whiteside (112.2)

More telling is that his individual defense hasn't led to overall improvements in team defense.

The Bucks lead the league in defensive efficiency (101.6), Utah is 11th (108.8), and Miami is 14th (109.2). The Blazers fall near the bottom, ranked 27th (113.6).

While the Blazers' struggles on defense aren't Whiteside's fault, the numbers show he isn't necessarily helping either.

As for the coaches, they value how a player impacts and changes the team defense over a player's individual numbers. Based on individual numbers alone, Whiteside should be in the conversation with those other centers, not an afterthought.

Again, how does the league's leading shot-blocker not even receive a vote for all-league defense? 

Luckily for Whiteside, the Blazers have at least eight more games for him to put on a defensive show.