Trail Blazers

Lillard's message to team before Thursday's practice: We've got to get better now

Trail Blazers

When training camp tipped off three weeks ago with individual workouts for the first week, the Trail Blazers discussed the importance of getting off to a good start with a shortened offseason and because they were about to play every other night starting in Jan.

Now it’s been just one regular season game, but the improvements from the final two-preseason losses in Denver to Wednesday’s regular season loss to the Jazz were few and far between.

[RELATED]: Blazers drop home opener to Utah Jazz after struggles on both ends

The first regular season game proved that this is a team that is still figuring out each other as well as their new schemes.

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Portland’s poor offensive night, meant more missed shots was more of an opportunity for the Jazz to snag rebounds, which they did. Utah outrebounded Portland, 59-40.

 

The Blazers allowed the Jazz to see the three-ball go through the hoop early and they weren't able to stop the bleeding from the perimeter. 

Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum discussed postgame that they realize they need more time to put in work together after only practicing a handful of times before the real deal.  

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had a not so great preseason. We’ve also not had a lot of time to practice. We’ve been in cities where we can’t meet, but that’s the reality of this season and the more we can get together, the more we can go over film, I think the better off we’ll be,” McCollum said.

Well, Lillard put it simply Wednesday night:

It’s time to be better.

Damian Lillard

The Trail Blazers point guard believes having a shorter training camp has meant they still need more time to figure each other out on both ends, but he knows this team must figure it out soon.

We didn’t play great in the preseason and this is not how we want to start the season, but I think we’ve got to be a little more assertive in correcting ourselves and demanding more of each other.

Damian Lillard

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers agree: Defensive struggles have led to more offensive challenges It's time to demand more of each other

And that starts in practice. 

McCollum reiterated how these two days in between the home opener and facing the Rockets is time for the team to take advantage of practice time and going through their walkthrough before Saturday.

It’s going to take time. It’s unfortunate we don’t have a lot of time, but it’s going to take time for us to figure some things out. Hopefully it’s sooner, than later.

CJ McCollum  

Lillard’s message to the media Wednesday night was also his message to his team before Thursday’s practice started.

Following practice, Trail Blazers big man Enes Kanter explained the vibe around the Christmas Eve practice.

That’s exactly what Dame said today in practice: We’ve got to get better today. We are not going to wait for the next game or the other game or whatever. We have to get better today’s practice.

Enes Kanter

“Every practice for us is gold,” Kanter added. “So we just gotta go out there and focus on what we need to focus on. And obviously this is a pretty new team, so we just have to get used to playing with each other more.”  

 

The time is now.