Blazers survive the Nets, advance to play in against Memphis

by Kevin Nesgoda

As the day went on it became clear that the game tonight against the Brooklyn Nets was going to be a must win. The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns blew out their opponents to force the Blazers to win to advance to the play in game against Memphis.

The Nets looked like they were on the verge of knocking out the Blazers with timely rebounds and huge buckets by Caris LeVert.

Damian Lillard said that their efforts were not going to be enough and guided Portland to a 134-133 win. The Blazers play the Grizzlies on Saturday at 11:30 AM.

First Quarter Thoughts

It’s good to see CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony come out aggressive. The Nets are trapping Damian Lillard as soon as he crosses half court. This is leaving both CJ and Melo open on the wings. They are knocking jumpers and getting to the basket. CJ had 10 of the Blazers first 16 points.

And once again, he’s doing this with a broken bone in his back.

Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins to get in each other’s way down low and continue to miss easy shots at the basket. Nurkic and Collins is not a good combo side by side. They are too much of the same player and like the same spots on the floor. Collins has not been aggressive and has felt like a net negative since his return.

Portland did not have a good first quarter of defense. Lots of trailing their man as they break to the basket, out of position on rotations leading to open threes, silly reach in fouls. It’s like they were trying to not foul and foul at the same time. Just a complete mess on defense.

Damian Lillard only had five points in the quarter. Blazers and Nets were tied at 31 all heading into the second.

Second Quarter Thoughts

As the first quarter ended the Nets got more and more open looks at three. Their play is the same each time too. High double screen, second screener flares out to the corner, ball handler drives, draws the defense, kicks to the corner for an open three. The Nets have run this play six times in the last six minutes and they were 4-6 on three point shots.

You’d think Terry Stotts or another one of the coaches would pick up on that. Apparently, the other team shooting well from three is no concern to them.

Gary Trent Jr. has been playing solid defense yet again. He barely missed his first three point attempt and then knocked down his second. He’s been so crucial to this team.

Damian Lillard has determined that he’s going to take over the second quarter. The Nets started to get hot from three, so Lillard decided that he was going to start shooting threes from Moda Center and dropping them.

It’s appalling that Damian Lillard was not in the top three for MVP this season. If it wasn’t for him the Blazers would have had a worse record than the Warriors. Might won six games all season without him. There’s no one on the whole Nets team that can guard him.

Toward the end of the quarter the game got sloppy. Lots of bad passing, terrible shot choices, and weird fouls called by the refs. The whole game lost all of its flow.

Despite all of that, the Blazers outscored the Nets 42-36 in the period to take a 73-67 into the half.

Third Quarter Thoughts

LIllard attempted to set the tone by hitting one of the craziest corner threes you are ever going to see. He’s just on another level right now and there isn’t anyone close to him at the moment.

The third quarter has been the achilles heel for the Blazers all season. Home, road, vacation, bath tub, the backyard kiddie pool; it doesn’t matter where the Blazers play the third quarter. At the start it seemed like the Blazers were going to shrug that off and then start to run up the score. They took a nine point lead and then Brooklyn went on a 17-3 run to take the lead.

Portland looked rattled, they didn’t have an answer for Caris LeVert or Garrett Temple or Tyler Johnson or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. The Nets were able to do whatever they wanted in the third quarter. it was working from inside and out. The Nets are 12-24 from three in the game and Portland has no answer on how to guard them. If they had a real defensive minded coach they might have an idea, but they don’t so here we are again.

I’m pretty sure we’ve been to this movie.

Brooklyn outscored the Blazers 37-24 and take a seven point lead into the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter Thoughts

Gary Trent Jr. hit a three to open up the quarter and we might have a ball game. Then Chelan, WA’s own Joey Buckets makes a three for the Nets. Then Dame casually strolls into a pull up 45 foot that was nothing but the bottom of the net.

You could tell that Dame was going to shoot that shot as he was coming up the court. His eyes were locked in on the rim the whole time he had the ball in his hands. He pulled up and if you are a Portland fan you knew that was going down.

Did not see this game turning into a Dame vs. Tyler Johnson shootout. I guess Johnson is still a big fan of the Suns.

The Blazers cut the lead down to one and could have taken the lead, but CJ and Trent missed threes that could have done just that. Down on the other end the Nets, specifically Jarrett Allen, started to dominate the offensive boards. He gave the Nets six chances on two straight possessions.

CJ and Nurk helped close the deal with some huge buckets and CJ, arguably the Blazers worst defender, guarded the red hot LeVert on the final shot and caused a miss. The Blazers escape.

LeVert did have CJ in the washing machine and the shot just missed.

Next Up

Saturday (8/15) against the Memphis Grizzlies at 11:30 AM PST.

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