No team has looked worse in the last two weeks — including a 42-point loss to the Knicks on national television Wednesday — and fallen apart more from the start of the season than the Portland Trail Blazers.
Thursday afternoon coach Nate McMillan paid the price — Portland has fired McMillan according to multiple media reports, with the story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
McMillan was considered on the hot seat. This is a team that was looking surprisingly good early in the season running the ball, but as the season went on they returned more to McMillan’s grind-it-out style. And they struggled. In the last two days Portland had been blown out by Indiana and the Knicks and had been in a free-fall that had taken them out of the playoffs in the West.
Still, this firing was handled in a very Portland, very owner Paul Allen way, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. All day throughout the run-up to the trade deadline the front office staff was on the phone with Allen and team president Larry Miller, but the coaching situation was never mentioned. Some of the staff learned of the firing through the media.
Portland spent the trade deadline day getting rid of salary and setting themselves up for a rebuild on the fly around LaMarcus Aldridge. Clearly ownership wanted someone else to coach that team.
Assistant Kaleb Canales will take over in the interim.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.