It's playoff time and nobody knows more about a deep postseason run than Trail Blazers veteran wing Norman Powell.
Having the 2019 NBA champion on the roster can only help, right?
The Blazers are about to find out, but with just one postseason practice under his belt with Portland, Powell is still navigating through the preparation differences between the two.
Powell won his first championship when the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals in six games.
Even though the 27-year-old has seen what it takes to bring home the hardware, he says he is “staying in his lane” right now with the Blazers, but he knows as the First Round series against the Nuggets progresses, he’ll have moments to share more of his thoughts and views.
Following the first full day of preparation for the Nuggets, Powell says he is soaking it all in on how the Blazers’ postseason preparation looks compared to what he was used to in Toronto.
Whether it’s during practice, the game, or game film sessions, he feels confident that he'll be able to add his input.
“Throughout the course of this series or this playoff run, just being vocal in what I see and how we can improve game in and game out,” is what Powell plans to bring from a leadership standpoint.
The seven-year veteran believes that Portland’s attention to detail on defense down the stretch of the regular season “fueled” their offense and led to their success in the final 12 games of the season.
As the 46th-overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, Powell has made a name for himself on the defensive end and as a go-to scorer.
He knows the way to beat the Nuggets in a seven-game series: Overall defense.
“The way to defeat Denver is by playing defense,” Powell said. “We can’t rely on our outside shooting. Obviously, if they’re there, we’ve got to take them and shoot them with confidence, but we can’t rely on trying to beat them offensively.”
Robert Covington, who was brought in to lead the change on the defensive end over the offseason, has been impressed with Powell’s versatility on that end.
“The intensity, the attention to detail, he brings a lot to the table and just that veteran leadership, the presence that he has had significant success, he brings that to us,” Covington said of Powell.
Powell suited up for the Blazers for the first time on March 26 vs. the Orlando Magic. It was just one day after Portland acquired the savvy vet at the NBA’s trade deadline in exchange for guard Gary Trent Jr. and veteran Rodney Hood who were shipped to Toronto.
But as the Blazers and Powell prepare to face the bigger Denver Nuggets, Powell at 6’3” is ready to slow down 6’10” forward Michael Porter Jr.
And no, he isn’t worried about the height difference.
“I’ve guarded bigger players before… I speak a lot about Toronto, but they put me on Kristaps Porzingis one game. So the height advantage doesn’t really bother me," Powell said.
Covington knows all too well Powell’s ability to take on bigger players.
“I had many battles with Norm when I was in the Eastern Conference as well," Covington noted. "I’ve seen the growth of Norm and what he’s been capable of. He takes on the challenge no matter who it is.”
Powell has seen a lot too in his previous six years in the league.
Going from a rotational player in the Toronto Raptors lineup to a sixth Man of the Year Candidate to now one of the NBA’s best shooters, the Blazers will undoubtedly rely on his skill and experience.
And just in case you're wondering, no, Powell is not showing off his championship ring as extra motivation for his teammates.
“I haven’t seen my ring since the championship, since it’s been in Toronto. Hopefully I’ll be able to add another one to the case.”