There was certainly plenty to like from the Trail Blazers in their Game 1 series win over the Denver Nuggets Saturday night:
The three-point shooting, the ball movement, limiting Nikola Jokic to a season-low one assist while putting pressure on other Nuggets players to step up their scoring, but as Carmelo Anthony points out –
“It’s just one game.”
Think back to last playoffs, following the Trail Blazers Game 1 victory over the Lakers, fans and even national media members were calling for the brooms, as a sweep over the Lakers was the new narrative.
Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts knows how that works.
“Momentum can be fleeting in a playoff series,” Coach Stotts stated. “The swings after a win or after a loss… in general the narrative switches whenever a team wins or loses.”
That’s why the mentality of never 'get too high or too low,' which Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony have all made reference to this season, is so valuable in a playoff series.
Coach Stotts credits that to experience.
“I think players that have been in this league that have a lot of playoff experience understand that and know that a seven-game series is a long time.”
But now as the Blazers continue that mindset, they also want to anticipate the Nuggets next move.
Coach Stotts explained that after a win or loss he asks his coaching staff what adjustments they believe their opponents may or may not do.
And that's even more of the case now.
“I assign a couple of coaches to say, ‘Okay, you are Denver, what would you think about doing?’ So you try and anticipate that,” Stotts explained. “But when you win a game there’s usually fewer adjustments than after you lose.”
But it’s also about sticking to what got the Blazers the win in the first place, just as McCollum pointed out following Sunday’s practice.
“It’s natural for both teams to make adjustments, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to stick to your DNA, your core,” McCollum added. “If you’re a three-point shooter, you’re going to figure out ways to shoot threes, which is what we do.”
Portland made 19 of its 40 three-point attempts in Game 1, while the Nuggets hit just 11 of their 36.
“I think they’ll try and combat that, but it’s normal,” McCollum added of the Nuggets’ adjustment on defending the three-point line. “I think there’s only so much you can control, but if you go play your game to the best of your ability, I think that you give yourself a chance.”
McCollum and the Blazers will continue to play their game and face the Nuggets adjustments head on when Game 2 tips off from Ball Arena Monday at 7:00p.m. PT on NBCSNW.