The Milwaukee Bucks have the highest scoring offense in all of the NBA and they are playing a banged up and defense adverse Portland Trail Blazer squad. For the Blazers to be competitive in this game they were going to have to match shot for shot with the Bucks.
In the first quarter they almost did that. The Bucks made eight three pointers and the Blazers nearly matched that by hitting seven of their own. The thing is they also let the Bucks shoot 66% from the field overall while shooting under 45% themselves.
The turnovers did not help either. It’s not like the Blazers don’t have good ball handlers outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, both Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. can run point, and Rodney Hood has some experience as a point forward in his day. Tonight, the ball handlers weren’t an issue, it was lazy passes from the perimeter to the middle of the floor.
It’s like they lack the fire to push themselves over the edge sometimes and I think that it comes down from the top and Terry Stotts. It seems like there is not enough accountability on this team.
A bright spot that I absolutely loved in the quarter was the play of Nassir Little. He had six points and played some really aggressive defense against both Middleton and Giannis. That three point shot was also looking really nice.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 2, 2021
Over the first five minutes and change the Blazers held the Bucks to only eight points to start the second quarter. Granted, the Bucks did not have a single starter on the floor over that period of time. As soon as the starters came back on the floor they scored 13 points over the next two minutes to force the Blazers to call a timeout.
Portland had a chance to cut the lead way down and they did get it down to six, but then the turnovers started to mount again and the defense started to let Milwaukee (specifically Bryn Forbes) knock down threes to start to push the lead back up.
Enes Kanter has had his hand on a lot of almost offensive rebounds, but those almost rebounds kept the Blazers on the offensive end while the Bucks were happy to let a guy leak out. Three or four Bucks would fight for the ball, get it, and hit the leaker out for an easy basket.
For the most part Kanter was the only one attempting to rebound the ball on the offensive end for Portland. Little did his best when he was in there to offer some support, he was able to convert a rebound for an and-1.
And all the while the rest of the team is hanging out just inside the three-point line not doing a damn thing. They aren’t helping get the rebound and they aren’t covering the leakers. They aren’t doing anything. It’s frustrating and it comes down to fundamentals. On the plane to DC all iPads should have film of the leakers shown on repeat.
They’d only get one view of it before the plane landed though.
Not a lot of positives in the first half. The team is down 23 and the bench has been outscored 33-14. And yes, I know, half the bench is in the starting lineup. Maybe it’s time for the Blazers to look into different team doctors. Maybe a shaman?
Little starts off the second half with some nice defense on Giannis, causing a miss, got a rebound, seconds later he was left wide open in the corner for a three-pointer, then he got a steal. It just sucks that his energy has not been picked up by the rest of the team.
Damian Lillard really gets the short end of the stick on a lot of calls. On a drive to the paint, his left arm was grabbed, literally grabbed, by Brook Lopez in front of two officials as he was going up for a layup and there was no call.
Lopez knocked down a three about nine seconds later.
In this game, Dame did try to draw contact on a possession instead of looking for a shot. He was upset that he did not get a call, but he wasn’t looking for a shot and the refs knew it. Most nights he is fouled on a shot but doesn’t get the call. He deserves the calls in most situations as he is legit fouled. Tonight is the first time I’ve seen him go foul hunting like James Harden and it got him out of his game.
With the Blazers down by 34 with two and a half left in the third, Dame’s night is more than likely done.
The Blazers really need to fill out their roster. Their bench is thin and there are some guys on the wire that could contribute in some sort of way for the Blazers in spots of need. There aren’t guys on that list that will instantly be a second or third option, but they provide depth in case of a forty point ass-whooping.
At least it finally looks like Nassir Little can be a real rotation piece going forward. In the fourth, he showed a lot more bucket skills and even ran the point a few times. He got a career-high 30 points
Game in 22 hours against the Washington Wizards. The tip is at 5:11 PM PST.