Bill Simmons and Steve Kerr Talk Trail Blazers On The BS Report

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

On this week’s BS Report, one of the weekly podcast on Grantland.com, host Bill Simmons and TNT analyst and Trail Blazer player Steve Kerr discuss the Portland Trail Blazers twice throughout the course of the hour long show. You can listen to the podcast in it’s entirety here, but for your convenience, I’ve transcribed the two segments pertaining to Portland.

First, Simmons brings up the Trail Blazers as the anti-Cavaliers, a team struggling at 4-7 with roster issues.

Kerr: … (Cavaliers guard Dion) Waiters is the guy who doesn’t really fit into the whole equation. You kind of mentioned it, he needs the ball. To me the biggest problem is he wants to dribble the ball all the time. You really only want one guy on your team who is going to break down the defense off the dribble. Once you get more than one, you get two or three guys like that and they all want to do it all the time, then you get no offensive rhythm and no ball movement. I think that]s a problem. The Waiters/Kyrie (Irving) combination just does not look very good.

Simmons: Then you look at it on the flip side, you know, Portland, which was a team I actually thought was going to make the playoffs. You watch that team offensively and the pieces make sense, right? Like, (Damian) Lillard has the ball most of the time, they have shooters in place, they have a low post game, (Robin) Lopez doesn’t want the ball. And just the way that roster, the way their five guys mesh, makes sense. I watched that Cleveland team and it didn’t make sense.

But the section with the most meat comes when the conversation turns to the Rockets and Omer Asik, who is reportedly disgruntled with his role as Dwight Howard’s backup and who the Rockets are currently attempting to trade. Simmons throws out the idea of Houston moving Asik to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, to the Pelicans for Ryan Anderson, to the Celtics for Jeff Green or to the Trail Blazers for Lopez and parts …

Simmons: I think Portland’s a possibility too because you think, like,  (Houston) gets (Robin) Lopez back, they get one more shooter, they get Portland’s draft pick. And just Portland upgrading from, if they could figure out a way to upgrade from Lopez to Asik, now all the sudden they’d have a chance for like a four or a five seed, I feel like.

Kerr: Yeah, Portland would be interesting. They’re obviously a great story at 9-2. I thought they’d be pretty good. I thought they’d be the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs just because they’re very good offensively and I felt like they’d be better on “D”. Terry Stotts has made some adjustments with their pick and roll coverage. Lopez, even though he’s not a flashy guy who you say “Wow, look at that guy!” he does some good things for them. He protects the rim, so their defense has gotten much better, which has allowed them to finish out games on the road like we’ve seen the last couple nights in Toronto and Brooklyn.

Simmons: You drafted Lopez.

Kerr: I did (Kerr was the Suns general manager from 2007 to 2010). I did, so you have to take that for what it’s worth. Maybe I’ve got a little bias going but I just think, if you want to really compete in the NBA at a high level, you have to have rim protection of some sort. Chicago, two years ago, the reason they were so great and they were in the conference finals with Miami was there bench play with (Taj) Gibson and (Omer) Asik coming in together was so devastating defensively and then they always had (Joakim) Noah in the there to protect the rim as well. Unless you have Lebron — then you can do things in an unorthodox manner — you better have somebody who can protect the rim.

Simmons: I like Lopez. That trade, everything that New Orleans did, and I wrote about it, Jalen and I talked about it in our big preview series, I just hated what New Orleans did. To give away Lopez, who I think was only five million bucks this year, to just give him away because you wanted to overpay Tyreke Evans is just nonsensical to me. I’d rather have Lopez! Just in a vacuum I’d rather have Lopez. But then if I were to pay him half as much as Tyreke Evans, I would double rather have Lopez!

Note: If the Trail Blazers pick in the 2014 Draft is 13 or later, it goes to the Bobcats, which was stipulated in the trade that netted the Trail Blazers Gerald Wallace.

Let’s also remember that this is just Simmons and Kerr shooting the breeze, not a rumor of any substance. Having said that, I know a lot of folks love Asik, but is he so much better than Lopez that you pay almost double for him AND potentially give up picks and, as Simmons suggests, a shooter? I suppose I could be persuaded, but I just don’t know. I like what we’ve got going right now.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Second Round, Game One Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
13 hours ago

Greetings from San Fransisco. After the Trail Blazers lost 118-106 to the Warriors in Game One of their Western Conference semifinal series, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, grabbed a couple mics to record the first second round edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which is now available for your afternoon listening…

On this edition, we discuss Sunday afternoon’s loss, Portland’s tough start and whether there’s anything positive to be taken from the last three quarters, dealing with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the eventual return of Stephen Curry and if there any similarities between Sunday’s game and Game One versus the Clippers. We also answer a host of questions about Allen Crabbe, the enthusiasm at Oracle Arena, the quick turnaround from Game Six to the second Game One and give some tips on packing for regular business travel. And we also start the show off with some bad Mike Meyers impersonations. Sorry about that.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. We’ll talk again after Game Two.

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Henderson Says He’s ‘Got To Be Smarter’ After Game One Ejection

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 days ago

Even at full strength, the Trail Blazers were having a hard time keeping up with the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their second round, best-of-seven playoff series. But that task got significantly harder after reserve guard Gerald Henderson, who is averaging 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the 2016 postseason, was ejected after a series of altercations with Warriors center Anderson Varejao that occurred late in the third quarter of Portland’s 118-106 loss Sunday night at Oracle Arena.

The first incident took place at the 3:29 mark of the third. Henderson and Varejao collided during the run of play, sending Varejao tumbling to the floor. As he was falling, he seemed to extend his leg out in an effort to trip Henderson, which ultimately proved successful. Henderson immediately got off the floor and into Varejao’s face, prompting the officials to call assess technicals to both players.

“I bumped him — not on purpose — he tripped me on purpose,” said Henderson. “I fell hard, I didn’t like it, so came together, that’s what happens.”

But that wouldn’t be the end of the tete-a-tete between Henderson and Varejao. Though Varejao was on the bench, that didn’t stop him and Henderson from continuing their less than cordial discussion, which the officials apparently noticed, as both players were once again awarded technicals, resulting in double ejections.

“The ref threw me out from across the way. I guess he could hear what I was saying from across the court,” said Henderson. “We were talking since the first technicals happened, but there’s a lot of talking going on out there. For both of us to get kicked out of the game, it was surprising.”

Despite the tense moments, Henderson said postgame that there was no lingering animosity while noting that he was more mad at himself than at Varejao.

“I been put it behind me,” said Henderson, who finished with five points and three assists in just under 17 minutes. “We lost the game, that’s the only thing that matters. I was pissed I got thrown out, we still had a chance to win the game. I got ejected, I’ve got to be smarter, regardless of if I thought I should have got kicked out or not.”

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Trail Blazers Stumble Early In Game One Loss To Warriors

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 days ago

OAKLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers had roughly 36 hours to prepare for Game One of their Western Conference Semifinals matchup versus the Golden State Warriors after eliminating the Clippers in Game Six at the Moda Center on Friday night. There was only so much film they could watch, only so many Warriors-specific plays they could learn before a 12:30 pm tipoff Sunday afternoon in Oakland.

That was a reality reflected in Portland’s performance to start the game, as they made just five field goals and trailed by as many as 20 in the first quarter before going on to lose 118-106 to the top-seeded Warriors in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena.

“Certainly wasn’t the start we wanted,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was disappointing to get off to such a poor start. Our offense, we had trouble scoring. Their defense got into us. It was just — we struggled at both ends, and probably more so on the offensive end, which fed into their defense. They had second chance point, they had fast-break points. It was a little bit of everything.”

The Warriors now lead the series 1-0 with Game Two scheduled for Tuesday.

“To start the game, we played like a team playing it’s second game in 30 hours,” said CJ McCollum. “We can’t start like that, especially here.”

The good news is the Trail Blazers improved as the game went on. Portland shot 52 percent from the field an 67 percent from three in the second quarter, utilizing small lineups that featured Maurice Harkless at “center” to eventually outscore Golden State 34-28 in the quarter. The Trail Blazers managed to cut the Warriors’ lead to single digits on numerous occasions before the half but were never able to keep the deficit in check for more than a possession or two, allowing the home team to take a 14-point lead into the intermission.

The Warriors, playing without reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who is sidelined with a sprained right MCL, would reestablish their dominance in the third quarter, holding Portland to 9-of-27 shooting from the field and a particularly stingy 1-of-8 from three. Between their defense and shooting 50 percent from both the field and three in the quarter, Golden State took a 26-point lead, their largest of the night, before heading into the fourth up 93-73.

Portland was able to give the final score an air of respectability by outscoring Golden State 33-25 in the fourth, but never realistically threatened the defending champs before the final buzzer. And while there was little to like about their Game One performance, the Trail Blazers can take some comfort in knowing they were able to bounce back from a rough start in the first round to win their series versus the Clippers.

“We got beat pretty soundly in Game One against the Clippers and we made some adjustments, we played a little bit better and got better as the series went along, and we need to do the same thing,” said Stotts. “So we’ll watch the video, see what we can come up with for Game Two. But there’s no question that we have to play better and learn from Game One like we did with the Clippers.”

The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who finished with 30 points, five assists and four steals in 41 minutes. CJ McCollum added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. Portland’s starting backcourt combined to shoot 13-of-43 from the field, with many of those makes coming when the game was already out of reach.

“We’ve just got to be better,” said Lillard, who said he’s been battling a chest cold the last few days (and sounded like it when answer questions postgame). “I got some looks that I need to make, CJ did as well. We just got to be better offensively if we want to have a chance against this team.”

Al-Farouq Aminu shot 6-of-13 from the field and 3-of-8 from three for 15 points in 25 minutes. Harkless added 10 points and three rebounds, with Mason Plumlee grabbing a game-high 13 boards.

Allen Crabbe continued his strong play as of late, going 6-of-9 from the field for 15 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes. Ed Davis went 5-of-6 from the field to finish with 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in 18 minutes.

Gerald Henderson finished with five points and three rebounds in 16 minutes before being ejected after getting receiving two technicals for arguing with Warriors center Anderson Varejao, who was also ejected.

The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson, who shot 50 percent from both the field and three to finish with a game-high 37 points to go along with five rebounds in 37 minutes.

“We’ve got to do a better job, starting with me if I’m guarding (Thompson),” said McCollum. “Got to make sure I’m pacing better and making him curl. Hard hedges got to be there, especially if it’s Bogut or somebody setting setting that screen where he’s not really a good shooter. We’ve got to make sure we make them pay for that.”

Draymond Green put up a triple-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes. Shaun Livingston added 12 points and with both Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut finishing with 10 points.

Next up, the Trail Blazers will try to regroup before heading back to Oracle for Game Two on Tuesday.

“I got some looks that I usually would have made that I didn’t knock down,” said Lillard. “So next game, I look forward to the challenge again. At this point in the season, all that matters is winning. You either win or you lose; you advance or you go home. At this point, we’re just trying to fix things and make sure that our season keeps going.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.

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