Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks - Game One

What the Blazers should do if the lockout ends

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The Blazers had an interesting year last season. Brandon Roy’s injuries made him a shell of his former self, and 2007 #1 pick had yet another devastating knee injury that caused him to miss a full season. However, the team got a breakout year from LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews backed up his contract, and a mid-season trade for Gerald Wallace invigorated the team’s frontcourt. The Blazers were disappointed when they lost in the first round to the Dallas Mavericks, but that doesn’t look all that bad in hindsight. Here are a few things the Blazers should do next season:

1. Pray for Health

Brandon Roy may never be a top-10 player again, but if he could be anything like the player he was in 08-09, it would help the Blazers tremendously. And at this point, we all know the Greg Oden story — if he’s healthy and can find ways to stay out of foul trouble, he’s a top-5 true center in the NBA who will only get better. But for the majority of his career, he’s been paid to wear a suit. If Oden can get back on the floor and stay there, everything changes for the Blazers. But obviously, that’s a big if.

2. Hope that LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be a star

Aldridge has always been a good player, but last season was a breakout year for him. His PER jumped by a full three points, he averaged 21.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game, and had an incredible +/- of +14.4 points per 100 possessions. The good news is that Aldridge can get even better if he starts to mix in more drives to the hoop set up by his silky-smooth, high-release jumper and raise his scoring efficiency, which is somewhat pedestrian. Of course, life will be a lot easier for Aldridge if Oden is healthy enough to free him up for wide-open 15-footers or the rest of the Blazers free up the lane to give him some easy dunks, which leads us to:

3. Hope the Raymond Felton era starts well

Andre Miller, who was a wonderful floor general but couldn’t shoot threes or beat all that many folks off the dribble, is gone. Now Raymond Felton is running the show in Portland, and the bowling-ball like former Knick and Nugget has both serious speed and three-point range. If he can run the show successfully and set things up for the ultra-athletic Nicolas Batum and Gerald Wallace and give dead-eye shooter Wes Matthews some clean looks while Aldridge continues to fill it up from the blocks, he team could get a lot better offensively. And if Oden is back to patrol the paint, the Blazers could at long last become serious contenders out west.

Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry


Jonathan Simmons did his best LeBron James impression on opening night.

While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).

Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.

Iman Shumpert in concussion protocol after collision with Porzingis

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Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s blowout opening night win over New York, the Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert lowered his head and tried to drive the lane, where he collided with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. It looked like Shumpert’s head hit Porzingis’ hip and elbow.

Shumpert instantly went to the ground, then needed help to come off the court. He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, the team announced. Apparently, Porzingis is a rock.

That puts Shumpert in the league’s concussion protocol, and he’s going to miss time, notes Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

A source questioned whether Shumpert would be available for either of the Cavs’ next two games, Friday in Toronto and Saturday against Orlando at The Q. To play, Shumpert would need to be symptom free, pass a series of tests, and show no symptoms after each test.

There is no set timeline with a concussion. In the short term, this will mean more DeAndre Liggins on the court until Shumpert returns.

The Cavs are already without rookie backup point guard Kay Felder, who suffered a concussion during practice last Friday when he ran into Chris Andersen.

What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers finishes off a fast break with a dunk in the third quarter as Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks watches on October 25, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated New York 117-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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There’s a good reason LeBron James has been to six straight NBA Finals. It’s not all about his incredible physical gifts. It’s not about the quality of his teammates.

It’s about will.

On a night when a lot of teams play like their hungover — the night they get their championship rings and a banner is raised to the rafters — LeBron played harder than anyone and pulled his team along.

LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.

But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.


Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.

After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.

The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.

In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.

Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.

For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.

Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.


LeBron James isn’t the only story out of the NBA season opener — Kyrie Irving had 29 points, Kevin Love had 23, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose were shotmaking.

But mostly, LeBron James was dunking. And racking up a triple-double (19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds). But mostly just dunking. Like you see above. Or there is this alley-oop.


Or, there was this putback throwdown.

And we can throw in a block on Courtney Lee just for fun.