Trail Blazers

No one thought the Trail Blazers could beat the 76ers, except Daryl Morey

Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers went into Philadelphia to take on the best team in the Eastern Conference, and they had to do so shorthanded. 

Nearly the entire normal starting line was out: Damian Lillard (abdominal strain), F Derrick Jones Jr. (left foot sprain), F Nassir Little (left knee sprain), G CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), C Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and F/C Zach Collins (left ankle stress) all missed the action.

Even backup point guard Anfernee Simons was dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that limited him to just 19 minutes on Thursday. 

Against a Sixer team with MVP candidate Joel Embiid, no one gave the Blazers a chance. 

That is no one except 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey.

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Sixers beat reporter Keith Pompey tweeted out the Blazers injury list prior to the game with the hashtag "#NotTheTestFolksEnvisionedFlow."

Morey responded with a simple "I am not fooled" but the included link is what really told the story. 

 

For those that don't recall, Morey is referencing the incredible games against the Kings to end the regular season in 2019.

The Blazers needed a win that night (and a couple other dominoes to fall) in order to secure the third seed in the playoffs. Coach Stotts seemingly decided to just let the pieces fall where they may when he chose to sit all his starters and main rotation players. 

The thought was let guys like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum get rest before the playoffs. In doing so, Stotts had just six players (though the players he rested were in uniform; they just never entered the game) to take on the Kings.

Instead of taking the loss like everyone expected, then rookie guard Anfernee Simons exploded for a career-high 37 points to lead the Blazers to a highly improbable overtime victory over the Kings.

Flashback to today and Morey was basically saying "We've seen what happens when half the Blazers roster doesn't play. We can't take them lightly.'

He was right. 

Led by Gary Trent Jr. and Carmelo Anthony, the Blazers, with just nine healthy players, took down the heavily favored 76ers. 

Like that night against the Kings, it was a rookie who took the rare chance at minutes and made a huge impact. 

Rookie CJ Elleby had played just a total of 44 minutes all season, but was on the court for 31 against the Sixers. 

He ended the night with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks. 

A rookie taking over and the short-handed Blazers grabbing the win. Who woulda thunk it?

The man running the show for the team they took down, that's who. But even he couldn't stop it.