Two postponed games for the Portland Trail Blazers this week after ongoing contact tracing within the Memphis Grizzlies organization has meant the Trail Blazers have had extra time to “get after it.”
With four full days in between games, Portland is looking to take advantage of the extra practice time and rest, while also implementing a few new offensive sets.
Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony, who, of course, has seen and done a lot over his 18 years in the league, knows that when extra practice time presents itself, a team must take advantage.
“This was a practice [where] we got a chance to actually get after a little bit, bang in there, scream and yell, laugh and joke, but honestly, get after it...
The 36-year-old also mentioned that as a team they have had time to make adjustments since finding out that CJ McCollum will be re-evaluated in one month due to a left foot fracture, and Jusuf Nurkic will also be out for at least another six weeks following surgery on his fractured left wrist.
This welcomed time of rest and practice couldn’t have come at a better time with the two starters out with injuries.
“We’ve got to take advantage of these next couple of days,” Melo said. “Obviously, it’s unfortunate in what [the league] is dealing with and as we know health is the most important and getting guys feeling better, controlling it, tracing it, tracking it, whatever they have to do to get a hold of it.”
As the NBA deals with the health and safety protocols amid the pandemic, the Blazers are coping with life without two of their best players.
With no McCollum on the floor, the Blazers are losing 26.7 points per game as well McCollum’s two-man game with any of Portland’s bigs, not to mention his crafty midrange game.
But with that, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts knows it can’t all fall on Damian Lillard’s shoulders.
Coach Stotts also added that he doesn’t want to “overwork” Lillard, who is currently averaging 36.2 minutes per game.
Which means, Rodney Hood, Anfernee Simons, and Gary Trent Jr. will have more primary ball handler responsibilities even when Lillard is on the floor.
Thursday, Coach Stotts elaborated on the team's new approach on the offensive end.
“We’re still going to run a lot of pick and rolls with Dame – that part is not going to change. But with Rodney, Gary Trent, Ant Simons when Damian is out of the game will try and run more movement sets... We’ll also have some action where those three guys can be the initiators of the offense rather than Dame always initiating the offense.”
Portland will test out its new offensive approach Sunday night when the Blazers host the Knicks.