That’s one thing to always keep in mind after watching a star-less Phoenix Suns team take it to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Saturday marked the Blazers third exhibition game of the 2019-20 season and it wasn’t a pretty one against the Suns, particularly on the defensive end, and even more specifically, on the perimeter.
In Phoenix’s 134-118 win over Portland, the Suns shot lights out from three.
Phoenix went 24-of-45 from deep. They did that without Devin Booker on the floor. So, what do the Blazers chalk it up to?
For CJ McCollum, who got it going from three himself, he attributes the Suns knocking down so many deep balls to a number of things.
“We’ve got a lot we’ve got to improve on, tighten up, but they’re NBA players. They made some tough shots, some of them were wide open, some of them were more contested, but we’ll be better as the season gets closer,” McCollum said.
“Obviously they shot the ball really well and some of that is on us,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame. “I don’t think we ever necessarily made them feel uncomfortable with their shot and they got their confidence going. I don’t think we started the game really locked in and that set the tone. Hats off to Phoenix, they shot the ball really well…Like I told the team, it’s a good lesson because on any night teams can get it going and they got it going tonight.”
Two Trail Blazers who are notably defensive first guys and always take pride in what they can accomplish on that side of the ball, wanted to make sure they gave credit to their opponents.
“They just shot the crap out of it tonight. That’s the beauty of this league. Regardless of who is playing there’s a lot of talented people and lot of guys got a lot of opportunity and they took advantage of it,” Kent Bazemore said.
Yet Zach Collins was not ready to give them too much credit.
“Our defense wasn’t very good,” Zach Collins added. “We let them shoot a lot of threes and they made a lot, you’ve got to give them credit. They shot the hell out of the ball. But we obviously, we should have turned up the defense. We talked about it at halftime and we just didn’t come out and play as hard as we should have, so it’s mostly on us.”
But what about chalking this game up to it just being the preseason?
Damian Lillard believes that would be the easy way out.
“What I just said was the easy thing to say – it’s just the preseason,” Lillard said. “But it’s a lot of things that you look at that game and you take away from it saying we need to do better. Too many missed communications. We allowed too many comfortable catch and shoot threes. A lot of that came from miscommunication, turning the ball over, they’re not playing a half court set defense, they’re pushing it against the break so our defense is off-balance, guys trailing the play – a lot of situations like that.”
Nobody would expect the leader of this Blazers team to give the excuse of 'it’s just the preseason.'
Thus, Lillard and the Blazers now have 11 days to tighten things up before it all really begins.