It’s far too early for panic in Portland. This is a team most outside Portland thought would finish a little above .500 and maybe grab one of the back-end playoff spots in the West, and at 9-7 they are on that pace.
But after an ugly Portland loss to Sacramento (just a few games after a loss to Brooklyn where coach Terry Stotts benched center Jusuf Nurkick for most of the fourth), Trail Blazers fans were restless and started to slam coach Stotts on the Trail Blazers’ Instagram page.
I doubt Stotts noticed, but Damian Lillard did and jumped in to defend his coach.
Lillard added this (hat tip Mike Richman at the Oregonian).
“Because people think they know more about what it takes to get things done at this level … For our team than they actually do,” he said. “We’re in this position for a reason. And coach Stotts had two 50-win seasons here and four straight years in the playoffs for a reason –because he knows what he’s doing. They mention … our record is 8-7 and we’re having breakdowns late in games. Well those breakdowns are a missed shot here, a turnover there, a defensive breakdown here, giving up extra possessions, missed free throws. It’s things that players control. If we were down 30 every game, that’s different. But we’re in position to win games. And when it’s time to win games, that’s the players’ job. “
Lillard is loyal to those around him and has had the back of teammates and his coach before.
Lillard and his teammates went out Saturday night and got some revenge on the Kings, winning 102-90.
Portland’s defense has been surprisingly good this season, second best in the NBA. It should have been better with Nurkic in the paint, but this has been a radical turnaround for a team where that end of the floor held them back in recent years. While that lofty ranking may not stick all season, the Blazers are defending.
Now the Blazers are just having trouble scoring efficiently (18th in the NBA), which is a little about a less-efficient Lillard and a rough start on that end for Nurkic. That end of the court should come around, Lillard and C.J. McCollum are too good for it not to.
The 2018-19 NBA season has started off a little wild. We have already seen several overtime games, with things sloppy but close as teams run down to the wire.
On Tuesday night, we got another overtime matchup.
As the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia to the floor in Michigan, it ended up being one of the best nights of Blake Griffin‘s career.
Griffin scored 50 points and hit what effectively became the game-winner in overtime.
The 50-point effort was the best of Griffin’s career. His prior high-water mark was 47 points in a game against the Indiana Pacers in 2011.
It was just in time, too. Griffin’s frontcourt teammate Andre Drummond was a ejected after a flop by Sixers big man Joel Embiid late in regulation.
Detroit took home the win, 133-132, moving to 3-0 on the season. The Sixers are now 2-2.
Trade talks for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler have apparently gone dormant. Things fell through with the most likely deal between the Wolves and the Miami Heat earlier in October, and now we are in sort of a weird limbo state where Butler is still playing for Minnesota.
The season has started, the Timberwolves have new jerseys, but everyone knows what is coming.
It certainly doesn’t mean that interest in Butler’s services have waned. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, four teams still have adding Butler at the top of their list.
Windhorst appeared on Alex Kennedy’s podcast this weekend and said that the Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets are still gunning for Butler.
Windhorst gave a caveat for both Dallas and the Clippers, who have the ability to sign Butler this offseason through free agency. That makes a trade between the Timberwolves and those teams less likely, especially because Minnesota’s asking price for Butler apparently keeps going up (rather than down) as time goes on.
No doubt this saga will continue for some time until Butler eventually gets traded to somewhere strange, like the Milwaukee Bucks.
Much like the Kawhi Leonard situation last season in San Antonio, we could be waiting all season for something to happen on the Butler front.
Things aren’t pretty with the Minnesota Timberwolves right now. The team is still trying to figure out what to do with Jimmy Butler, and a willing trade partner doesn’t seem available at the moment.
But that doesn’t mean that the Timberwolves can’t still look good.
On Tuesday, some of Minnesota’s alternate uniforms for this season leaked on Reddit. They of course made their way to Twitter, and they have a very specific theme: “Purple Rain”.
The jerseys are of course based on Prince’s iconic 1984 album/film combo. Prince, a Minneapolis native, passed away in 2016.
Meanwhile the Wolves may be bad, but at least their uniforms will rock.
DETROIT (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons is out Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons because of back tightness.
76ers coach Brett Brown says Simmons is questionable for Wednesday at Milwaukee after he left Saturday’s game in the first quarter against Orlando and did not return. Brown says Simmons wasn’t fully comfortable and that resting him Tuesday boosted the chances he could play Wednesday.
Simmons, the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year, was averaging 16.0 points, 14.0 rebounds and 9.5 assists in the first two games before playing just eight minutes Saturday.