Blazers put a whoopin on the Sixers, 121-105

by Kevin Nesgoda

Are the Blazers cursed? It sure seems like it, doesn’t it? I’ve seen some teams get bit by the injury bug, but this season for the Blazers is on another level of cursed. Tonight the Blazers were without Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Derrick Jones, Jr., Jusef Nurkic, and Zach Collins (does he even live here anymore?).

When is the last time an NBA team was missing literally half their team?

The 76ers were in attack mode to start, especially with Tobias Harris working the midrange hard against Carmelo Anthony. I’m not sure why Anthony was on Harris to start, it seems like a matchup that Robert Covington would be the one to guard Harris.

But this is Terry Stotts making the decision and we all know that Stotts knows defense.

With Anfernee Simons on a time limit restriction due to a pulled hammy, Rodney Hood got the start tonight at the point guard position. He does have a history of playing point in the past in high school, some at Duke and some with the Jazz.

Hood ran the offense pretty efficiently while he was in the game. The Blazers did hold an 18-16 lead when he exited the game.

Joel Embiid hurt his knee during a goal tend on Ene Kanter. His knee flexed all funny when he landed. For a guy his size with his injury history that probably isn’t a good sign.

And the Blazers did take advantage of this. After Embiid went out the Blazers attacked the paint hard Gary Trent Jr., CJ Elleby, Enes Kanter, and Melo all got easy baskets in his absence and the Blazers had a 27-22 lead.

Then Embiid came back into the game and the Sixers went on a 6-0 run to take the lead back. He’s definitely a much better overall player than Dwight Howard.

I love Simon’s energy on the court and how he could potentially be a sparkplug off the bench for the Blazers, but he shoots for the sake of shooting when he first comes into the game. Rarely is he on fire and he does start knocking down shots when he’s more into the flow of the game. He came in to run the point, took two bad and contested three-pointers, and he was immediately replaced at point by Trent and CJ Elleby.

When Stotts pulls your position for a rookie you know you messed up.

To start the second quarter, Harry Giles replaced Kanter and Embiid bullied him. It was not a fair match up at all. Embiid would get to any position that he wanted in the paint, Giles was not remotely strong enough to deal with Embiid in the paint.

This got Giles playing on his heels, Embiid would drive, Giles would retreat and hold at the basket, and Embiid would simply pull up with space and knock down a short jumper. He did this on back to back possessions and Giles looked so frustrated. I don’t blame him, Embiid is a potential MVP and he is well, Harry Giles.

If not for Embiid it’d be safe to say that the Blazers would have a double-digit lead halfway through the second quarter. It took Stotts over seven minutes of game time to Kanter back in on Embiid. It didn’t matter when Kanter came back in, Embiid racked up six quick points on him.

This is just a night when you cannot stop Joel Embiid. The Blazers literally started to triple-team him and he was still scoring at will in the paint. He had 31 at half. He’s having an amazing game. I thought he was done for the game and he has come back really mad and making the Blazers for it.

Gary Trent Jr. is one of the best off the ball movers in the whole league. The dude never stands still on a possession. He’s constantly probing the defense. He’ll do in cuts, backdoor cuts, cross cuts, rip cuts, and miter cuts. You can get lost on a play watching him work.

If the defense does fall off he does set himself up so well for a catch and shoot three. You can see that he was so well-coached by Coach K. There are so many things that Trent does well. Spend a few possessions and watch how he operates.

The third quarter tends to be the worst quarter for the Blazers and it has been this way for years now. Basically, the entire tenure of Terry Stotts the Blazers have been absolutely god awful in the third quarter.

Tonight, missing 87 players, the Blazers started the quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 69-57 lead and forced Doc Rivers to call a time out. Gary Trent Jr. had two huge three-pointers to start and cap the run.

The Sixers were also running some really questionable defense here as well. They were running loose traps at half court on both Hood and Melo to force the ball out of their hands. It left a lot of Blazers open and their offense has a lot more motion to it tonight too.

Did Terry Stotts get replaced by Bob Knight at half time? This is some of the best team offense I have ever seen from the Blazers. There are so many off the ball picks, fade runs, pick and rolls at the top of the key, but then hitting a backdoor cutter as the Sixers collapse at the top rolling guy.

Can Stotts keep this going forward when Dame is healthy? So much heart and hustle from this team tonight.

I’m so impressed with this team so far tonight. CJ Elleby is playing like a second year player, Simons let himself get into the offense, and started knocking down some buckets, and Hood running the motion offense to perfection tonight. Lots of open looks against a really good defensive team in Philadelphia.

The hustle and movement got the Sixers flustered. It led to a technical foul on Tobias Harris and made Embiid work hard on defense. Most of his shots in the third were short and he only had four points.

The Blazers thwarted a quick run by the Sixers to start the fourth. Elleby had sealed the game away with a steal and dunk a few minutes into the fourth.

Again, this is the best the team as a whole has looked all season. Really happy with how the offense did not stagnate and turn into a Melo ISO show for 40 minutes tonight. The defense was extremely active. Really loved the game tonight.

Box Score

Next Up

Blazers head to MSG to take on the Knicks at 10 AM PST.

You may also like