Joel Embiid

Pregame Notebook: Trail Blazers forced to go small vs. Sixers

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Pregame Notebook: Trail Blazers forced to go small vs. Sixers

Before the Trail Blazers and Sixers tip-off at 7:00 p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'My Teams' App, both coaches gave their thoughts on tonight’s matchup with their different-looking lineups.

The Blazers will be without starting center Hassan Whiteside (hyperextended left knee) and starting power forward Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation) tonight.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said that Whiteside did not go through shootaround, but was instead evaluated this morning and then ruled out for the game.

Stotts did not say who would be playing at center in place of the injured Whiteside, but the assumption is Skal Labissiere will get the start. 

Mario Hezonja could also see time at the five spot. Which means get ready for a lot of small-ball play from the Blazers. 

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

Sixers head coach Brett Brown discussed how Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are ‘lethal’ on the offensive end. Brown also mentioned through the 76ers first four games of the season, his team has been hanging their hats on their defense.

Philadelphia will be without starting center Joel Embiid. The Sixers center was suspended for two games, starting in Portland, after he and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns got into it, and both players went to the floor in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game.

Coach Brown was not ready to reveal his starting lineup during his pregame interview.

Hear from Coach Brown right here:

The Contrarian: Why dodging Joel Embiid is a BAD THING

The Contrarian: Why dodging Joel Embiid is a BAD THING

The Philadelphia 76ers made their one and only trip to Portland on Saturday, and Trail Blazers fans were happy their team didn’t have to deal with 76ers star Joel Embiid.

Embiid had to sit out the game due to a two-game suspension for an on-court altercation with Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. The two came to blow late in a game on Wednesday and had to be separated by teammates. Ben Simmons had Towns in a chokehold, Towns tapped, Embiid went to the locker room to a chorus of cheers from the Philly faithful. It was far more WWE than it was UFC to tell you the truth. But still, the NBA came down and handed Embiid the suspension, meaning he wouldn’t step foot on the court against the Blazers, although Philly picked up the win regardless.

Sure, in this league you have to rack up as many wins as you can over an 82-game season, so grabbing a team at less than full strength is always a plus… or is it?

While most Blazers fans were happy to have an easier path, I’m here to play the role of The Contrarian. Here are just a few reasons why dodging Embiid was bad for the Blazers:

  • The simplest reason it’s bad that Embiid wasn't out there – The Challenge: With injuries to Jusuf Nurkic, Pau Gasol, Zach Collins, and Hassan Whiteside, the Blazers have had to turn to the young Skal Labissiere to play big minutes. While Labissiere is averaging just 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, he has far exceeded expectations. With Embiid, the Blazers were looking at a good test, a measuring stick if you will, for Labissiere. A chance to push him, and really see what they have when it comes to big man depth. Without Embiid, it feels like just another game for Labissiere. It should have been more.
  • The second reason it’s bad Embiid was out – Game Tape: The NBA is wide-open this season. Sure, there are a few favorites, but anyone from one through eight in the playoffs has a chance this season. Philadelphia is a favorite to make it out of the east, while Portland made a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season. Portland won its only championship in 1977 by beating the 76ers, and there is a realistic possibility these two teams could meet up again in the finals. Portland only plays the 76ers twice in the regular season and you want as much game tape of a full-strength 76ers team as you can get. Embiid is one of the best players in the NBA. The last thing you want is for him to be a “wild card” in a finals matchup.
  • The third reason it’s bad Embiid was out – Every hero needs a villain: Embiid may be the biggest heel in the NBA right now, and that’s a good thing. He rubs opposing fan bases the wrong way and ruffles their feathers. It makes him one of the most entertaining players in the league. If Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are Batman and Robin, then Embiid is the Joker (sorry Nikola Jokic fans). Instead of Embiid, the Blazers got a healthy dose of Kyle O'Quinn. That’s like expecting the Joker, and getting Calendar Man… For you non-Batman fans, trust me, it’s as bad as it sounds.

In the end, Portland wasn't able to pull out the win, even with Embiid sitting out, but maybe a battle against Embiid still would have been better in the long run, especially if you were taking the L anyways. 

 

 

 

70s Night! How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Sixers tonight at 7:00pm

70s Night! How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Sixers tonight at 7:00pm

Portland has officially listed center Hassan Whiteside (left knee) as 'questionable' for Saturday’s game vs. Philadelphia, while Zach Collins (left shoulder) will miss his third consecutive game. The Saturday night game at Moda Center is 70s night in celebration of the 50th Anniversary season.

Collins' absence has meant more minutes for Mario Hezonja, Skal Labissiere, and Anthony Tolliver. Even wing Rodney Hood has seen time at the power forward position. Hood admitted on Friday that this is the first time he has played the four spot. 

After Friday’s practice, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how the Sixers are still a big team even without Joel Embiid. The Sixers center was suspended for two games, starting in Portland, after he and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns got into it, and both players went to the floor in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game.

You can watch all the action of the Blazers and Sixers on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Sixers

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

Quote of the Day

“We’re basketball players, so I don’t think we should be fighting,” Damian Lillard said of the Embiid-KAT fight. “But we’re men at the same time and if somebody does something that you feel violated or disrespected by, I think that’s what it could end up being -- some type of tussle or some type of scrap. The type of training I do for boxing, the more you’re around it as a sport, the deeper you’re into it and the more you do it yourself, the more you realize how dangerous fighting really is. Especially for grown men.”

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Whether or not you're an NBA player, Damian Lillard has some good advice about fighting

Whether or not you're an NBA player, Damian Lillard has some good advice about fighting

Damian Lillard is probably the biggest boxing fan on the Trail Blazers’ roster. He loves the sport and can talk about it at all levels.

“Boxing is my favorite sport,” he said Friday. And anyone who follows him on social media knows that by now.

But when he saw a replay of Karl Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid getting into a scrap during a game Thursday night, Lillard shook his head in a knowing manner and said, “Man, that’s dangerous.”
Lillard isn’t just a fight fan, he trains as a boxer. He’s in a ring with gloves on, hitting and being hit. He has the knowledge of the sport that usually only comes from combat.

“We’re basketball players, so I don’t think we should be fighting,” he said Friday after practice. “But we’re men at the same time and if somebody does something that you feel violated or disrespected by, I think that’s what It could end up being -- some type of tussle or some type of scrap.

“The type of training I do for boxing, the more you’re around it as a sport, the deeper you’re into it and the more you do it yourself, the more you realize how dangerous fighting really is. Especially for grown men.”

How dangerous? Well…

“It’s really dangerous,” he said. “In the last year, three fighters have died. And these dudes are fighters professionally trained to defend themselves. It just shows you that you can be hit and you can be hurt – very bad.”

Stuff happens on the court, which can lead to tempers flaring. But Lillard puts that in perspective.

“Getting fouled, anything in a basketball game, is not worth any of those consequences,” he said. “Fighting is dangerous. We’re strong, professional athletes. Grown men. I would prefer not to see it at all, but sometimes things happen.”

And very often, large people such as Embiid and Towns haven’t had any or many fights because, with their size, they’ve been able to intimidate people without having to throw down. And even young, strong, athletic men – if they have no formal training in fighting – can be brutally hurt by smaller or older people who are experienced boxers or martial artists. Just google “Old man knocks out young punk” sometime.

“A lot of people aren’t really tough,” Lillard said. “And a lot of guys really are tough. And there are a lot of guys who probably haven’t had a fight since they were in elementary school. The first time I was punched in the face when I was a kid, I wasn’t even in the fight. I was trying to break up the fight. I realized maybe I could take a punch, but I realized, this is dangerous.

“I see why people go to jail for fighting. It’s dangerous.”

 

Joel Embiid suspended, will not play Saturday vs. Trail Blazers

Joel Embiid suspended, will not play Saturday vs. Trail Blazers

As expected, Joel Embiid has been suspended for his role in a fight on Wednesday night. Reports indicate the suspension is for two games.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid got into it and both players went to the floor at the 6:42 mark of the third quarter during the game. Chaos ensued:

Coming off a 3-1 road trip, with a banged up front court (Zach Collins, shoulder and Hassan Whiteside, knee), the loss of Philadelphia's big man for the game is a huge help to Portland's chance. 

The Blazers and Sixers tip off at 7pm on Saturday night for a special 70s Themed Decade Night. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers, and stream it on the MyTeams app. 

Could Joel Embiid be suspended for Saturday's game vs. Trail Blazers?

Could Joel Embiid be suspended for Saturday's game vs. Trail Blazers?

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Trail Blazers will make the trek back to Portland after tonight’s game in Oklahoma City.

During early action between the Blazers and Thunder, social media was blowing up with a scuffle from another NBA game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in Philly to face the 76ers.

A fight broke out between big men.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid got into it and both players went to the floor at the 6:42 mark of the third quarter.

This is significant for the Trail Blazers because Portland hosts the Sixers on Saturday night, and suspensions are likely come for both KAT and Joel Embiid.

Not having Embiid is always a big blow for Philadelphia. Ben Simmons could also be in some trouble. Simmons is seen putting a chokehold on Towns during the fight.

Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more on this situation and how it impacts Portland!

That sound you hear is the Blazers eating the Sixers alive on the boards

That sound you hear is the Blazers eating the Sixers alive on the boards

The Trail Blazers attacked rebounds Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia the way a pack of dogs would go after cheesesteak scraps over at Pat’s or Geno’s emporiums of the local specialty.

The 76ers were eaten alive on the boards – a 53-33 advantage for Portland that included a whopping 19 offensive rebounds -- and were outplayed at both ends of the court.

The final score was 130-115 but the game was not nearly that close.

Without all-star center Joel Embiid, the Sixers were lost. Portland had 66 points in the paint and 19 second-chance points. The Trail Blazers’ double-barreled center combo of "Nurk and The Turk" -- Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter -- was dominant, just as it had been at Brooklyn Thursday against the Nets.

Nurkic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in just 23:32. He hit nine of his 13 shots. Kanter had 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 20:40.

The inside scoring made up for another sub-par shooting night from three-point range, as Portland made just five of 23 from long range.

And balanced scoring was a big deal, with seven players in double figures. The Blazers moved the ball well enough to get 29 assists while coughing up just 11 turnovers.

That made it a rare night when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were not as necessary as usual. Lillard finished with 17 points and McCollum with 15. They each went 1-5 from three-point range. But both are willing passers and Lillard finished with eight assists in just under 30 minutes of duty.

“We don’t need Dame or CJ to score 25 each,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “Obviously, we're a team in transition. We're still finding out what works for us. Hopefully that’s a good sign that we can continue to score the ball with Damian and CJ maybe having off-nights.”

Portland was very attentive on defense in this game, even though the Sixers’ 48.3 shooting percentage speaks to the contrary.  Anytime you can hold JJ Redick to 1-10 shooting, you’re doing something right.

“It’s an early game,” Nurkic said after the game, which started at 1 p.m., local time. “First to wake up wins.”

Nurkic got into a iittle back-and-forth with Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and it prompted a quip after the game.

“I’m a better shooter than him,” Nurkic said. “I am for sure, that. The way he’s able to shoot – or not able to shoot – is ridiculous. But it is what it is.”

And the big rebounding edge?

“They tried to get small to get back in the game,” Nurkic said. “And we did a good job of not letting them make a run.”

Kanter passed the credit around for the big rebound advantage.

“When we have bigs like Nurk and myself… and not just the bigs, when you see Jake got 11 rebounds today… and not just him, but Mo and Al-Farouq Aminu, when we all crash the boards like that, it’s very tough for other teams to get fastbreak points,” Kanter said. “That’s making the game easier for us.”

 

Trail Blazers drub 76ers, who played without the world's best player

Trail Blazers drub 76ers, who played without the world's best player

The Philadelphia 76ers proved one thing Sunday night in Moda Center against the Portland Trail Blazers:

Their center, Joel Embiid, who sat the game out with a sore knee, may well be the best player in the world. He MUST be, to make the hapless-on-this-night Sixers worthy of a 23-14 record.

Philadelphia, which was just this side of pathetic against the Trail Blazers, shot only 35.4 percent from the field and an incredibly horrific 18.6 percent from three-point range. Portland, meanwhile, worked Philadelphia over to the tune of 59 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from three – both season highs.

The Blazers’ 34-point victory was their largest of the season and they actually led by 43 at one point. They shot 65.6 percent after three quarters before turning the game over to the end of their bench.

“I was really proud of the way we played in the first half at both ends,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said.

The Trail Blazers got 35-51 shooting from their starters, with Evan Turner taking over for Maurice Harkless, who was resting a sore left knee. But the big news was that CJ McCollum was able to shoot his way out of a three-point slump that had been hindering him for a few weeks.

McCollum went 13-18 from the field and 4-7 from three-point range. He scored 35 points in just 27:50.

“Overall, I think we played a good game and I made some shots, which made it easier for everybody else,” McCollum said. “It was a big win for us going into a new year and a tough road opponent in the Sacramento Kings.

“I understand how much time I put in and how many shots I put up. I knew the tide would turn eventually.

“The important thing is to be yourself. If you’re a shooter, shoot it. If you’re a ball handler, handle the ball. If you’re a defensive player, defend.”

Sixer Coach Brett Brown pointed to the absence of Embiid and what it meant for his team.

“Just the reality of how much Joel means to the team,” Brown said, “I’ve said, I’ll say it again, I think he’s a defensive player of the year. You know, you feel him, whether you look at the points in the paint, it’s at 62 to 30, whether you look at the rebounding margin (59-36).

“And I think the guys that we had, we just struggled defending them. We missed a lot of shots, we had a hard time defending them and the combination is lethal.”

Very true, but I think it’s only fair to point out that the 76ers are very talented, even without their center. They have one of the best two-way players in the league in Jimmy Butler, supposedly. Butler went 2-12 from the floor.

They have JJ Redick, an all-time great three-point shooter who was 3-11 overall and 2-7 from three.

They have Ben Simmons, last season’s Rookie of the Year, who managed to go 7-12 from the field but just 5-10 from the foul line.

Simmons has a jump shot that looks like a right-handed player trying to work on his left-handed shots. Except that Simmons is left-handed.

The Trail Blazers, who got double-figure scoring from all their starters but Turner, who finished with 8, did a very good defensive job on the Sixers, one of those teams that insists on beating you with three-point field goals, even on nights when they are not going in for them. They finished a rather mind-boggling 8-43 from that range.

The Trail Blazers head for Sacramento Monday and meet the Kings on New Year’s Day.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Philadelphia 76ers

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Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Philadelphia 76ers

It is the second night of a back-to-back for the Trail Blazers as Portland gets set to host the Sixers.

 

Before tonight’s game Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Sixers head coach Brett Brown gave updates to the media.

 

Stotts discussed how he feels that Meyers Leonard is most likely having his best season of his career. He has been pleased with his progression and how confident Leonard has been this year.

 

The Sixers pose a few challenges for the Blazers with big man Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler and Coach Stotts addressed both players’ strengths.

 

Coach Stotts also talked about what tonight’s game could look like with Embiid not on the floor.

 

“I think it changes more for them, than for us. Obviously, the guys will have more of an impact on the game. We’ll see if he doesn’t play… who gets those minutes and how Brett decides to rotate his players,” Stotts said. 

 

UPDATE: Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (left knee) will NOT play tonight.

 

Hear from Coach Stotts:

 

 

Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid (left knee) was initially listed as questionable, but he has now been downgraded to OUT for tonight’s contest.

 

Coach Brown says the training staff is not worried about Embiid’s knee soreness.

 

“We’ll figure out what’s gonna happen tomorrow and go from there. It’s not anything that we’re concerned about – just reacting to, you know, his thoughts and the medical staff thoughts that perhaps it might be best to sit,” Brown said.


The Sixers will start Amir Johnson in place of the injured Embiid.

 

Hear from Coach Brett Brown:

 

 

Blazers prove the NBA truism -- the aggressive team gets the calls

Blazers prove the NBA truism -- the aggressive team gets the calls

Some real talk about Portland's 114-110 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night:

  • A wacky, crazy, strange game. And for Trail Blazer fans, probably the most exciting game of the season. In the fourth quarter Portland did a great job of mucking the game up -- being physical on defense and very aggressive at both ends of the floor. It resulted in a 42-point quarter while holding the Sixers to 25. I liked the Blazers' passion in the period more than anything. They fed off the home crowd, which was rightfully going bonkers for the first time in weeks
  • And speaking of the home crowd, the referees pitched in and helped as much as they could. Portland shot 47 free throws while Philadelphia got just 14. That's a joke, but once again testimony to the NBA truism that the aggressive team gets the calls.
  • The game may have turned on a flagrant foul call on Joel Embiid in the fourth quarter when he bumped Jusuf Nurkic to the floor. Or Nurkic just flopped onto the floor. I can understand an official watching that in real time and thinking it may have been a flagrant foul -- but after watching a replay? That was a real bad call -- and even though Nurkic missed his free throws, you could feel the game changing on that call. Embiid seemed discouraged and tired down the stretch. Great player, though.
  • Nurkic offered a look at both sides of his game. He suffered through all sorts of stumbles, fumbles and misfires over the first three quarters. The man has missed more close-in shots and layups this season than any player I've ever seen. But in the fourth quarter, after getting his nose bloodied, he found passion and assertiveness. He was an inspiration down the stretch -- leading to the obvious question: Where has THAT Nurkic been?
  • The Sixers are a well-coached team but I could not figure out why they didn't send Embiid to the low post in the fourth quarter and let him go directly at Nurkic who played most of the final period with five fouls. My goodness, Nurkic will commit that sixth foul if you give him half a chance. in fact, the passive game officials aside, I thought he did commit his sixth foul two or three times but it just wasn't called
  • Like Nurkic, Shabazz Napier completely turned his game around in the second half. He missed his first six shots and struggled against the quickness of 76ers guard T.J. McConnell in the first half. But he hit seven of his last eight shots and was a big part of his team's late rally.
  • I'm not sure how much longer NBA officials will keep falling for Nurkic's flopping around but you have to figure it will reach that point.
  • CJ McCollum had one of those games we've come to expect of him -- making just about every open shot he got, including some big ones.
  • Somehow, Portland found its passion button in the second half. I don't know what triggered it, but it's been missing most of the season. What a difference when this team is playing with desperation and aggression.

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