When the Portland Trail Blazers take the court in Orlando, Florida at the end of this month, Rip City along with the rest of the NBA will likely see a new starting lineup. One that has never played together on the same NBA court.
Now you’re probably thinking, what a bad idea to introduce a new starting five with the playoff picture still taking shape and only eight games to make the postseason. However, the Blazers will finally be near full strength once play resumes at the end of the month. Head coach Terry Stotts will have more moving parts and talent to work with.
In a Zoom presser last Friday, Damian Lillard met with local members of the media and discussed his projected starting lineup when play resumes:
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].
I like that lineup, don’t get me wrong. For me, their biggest questions is, is Zach going to defend the three-man? Is Zach going to defend LeBron [James]? Is Zach going to defend Kawhi [Leonard] or Paul George? I don’t know if Melo can do that and play starter minutes right now. You want Melo to be the scorer, but Melo as a defender right now, that’s a little tough. — Channing Frye
It has been 469 days since Jusuf Nurkic has taken the court after suffering that gruesome leg injury vs. the Brooklyn Nets back on March 25, 2019. It’s been 253 days since Zach Collins left the court with a shoulder injury against the Mavericks on October 27, 2019. Both Blazers big men are cleared for play.
Less than one month after Collins’ injury, the Blazers signed 17-year veteran Carmelo Anthony.
It will be the first time these three will take an NBA court together along with Lillard and McCollum.
I love that Dame went with his ride-or-die guys. — Channing Frye
‘Ride-or-die’ is the perfect way to explain Portland’s situation. After the NBA Board of Governors were deliberating four possible scenarios to resume the NBA season after it was suspended in mid-March, Lillard shared his opinion on playing or rather not playing ‘meaningless games.’ The All-Star wanted something to play for or he wasn’t playing at all. Which is perfectly valid.
Now, the Blazers have a shot at the playoffs, despite that road being rather tough.
Will this brand new Blazers starting five give Portland that chance to break into the playoffs and make a splash in the postseason? We will soon find out on July 31 when the Blazers tip off against the Memphis Grizzlies for their first game in Orlando, Florida.