Trail Blazers

Blazers' 3-headed monster in Lillard, McCollum, Powell look to exploit Nuggets

Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers duo became a trio this season after the midseason trade for Norman Powell.

And Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, along with their new addition in Norman Powell were a big topic of conversation this week as both the Blazers and Nuggets discussed game preparation.

There’s no better three-man combination in scoring for Portland.

In their time on the court over 23 games played, the three-guard lineup of Lillard, McCollum, and Powell averaged 59.4 points per game, which is the top scoring unit of any other three-player combinations on the team. 

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They also had the best plus-minus on the team in the same category with a plus-7.

Nuggets head coach Mike Malone knows what the trio of guards can do. 

“They have an elite offense -- number two in offensive efficiency,” Coach Malone said earlier this week. “Those three guards put a tremendous amount of pressure on your defense, especially from the three-point line. So that would probably be the number one concern -- can we guard the three, somehow, some way?”

 

So, should the NBA world start referring to Portland’s three-guard lineup as a three-headed monster?

They just might, depending on what happens during the Blazers' postseason run.  

As Portland gears up for Saturday’s Game 1, Powell is honored to be in the same category as Lillard and McCollum to earn any nickname.

It’s not bad to be mentioned as a three-headed monster alongside those two guys.

Norman Powell

“When people, fans around the league see me as close to that caliber player, that’s the level that I want to get to where Dame and CJ are at, and that’s what I’m working for and to be mentioned in that group as that it’s pretty humbling.”  

The three guards' efficient shooting and experience could definitely carry the Blazers in the postseason.

With Powell playing in 67 playoff games over his eight-year career, he has the second-most postseason experience behind Carmelo Anthony’s 77 playoff games.

Powell appeared in 23 games during the Raptors' playoff run to win it all in 2019. During that span he averaged 6.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

Thirteen of Portland's 16 players have postseason experience heading into the 2021 Playoffs, totaling 391 postseason games combined.

Damian Lillard (55 games), Enes Kanter (54 games), CJ McCollum (51 games), Robert Covington (22 games) and Derrick Jones Jr. (15 games) have all played in 15 or more postseason games.

Portland’s All-Star point guard and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts shared the same sentiment this week about relying on playoff experience.

“It makes you a more resilient, a more polished team,” Lillard said following Friday’s practice. “When you look around and guys are experienced, guys have experienced the lows of a postseason, they’ve experienced the good moments, they’ve experienced the good moments, they’ve had tough stretches in games, bad shooting nights – they’ve all had the experience of those things in the most meaningful time of year.”

 

It helps going in when you have multiple guys that have that type of experience and I think that will definitely play in our favor.

Damian Lillard

As for having a championship player on the roster, Powell has said he will pick his spots during games throughout the first-round series to give his input.

But the Blazers undoubtedly are looking forward to having such an experienced playoff player on their roster. 

He’s been in the playoffs every year of his career. And winning a championship, he’s seen big moments, he’s seen great players make great plays in those moments, and he’s contributed.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts on Norman Powell

Now it’s time for the 27-year-old to contribute as part of the three-headed monster of guards.

The Blazers and Nuggets tip off Game 1 of their first-round series Saturday at 7:30p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest.