Blazers Talk Preferences, Or Lack Thereof, In Playoff Matchup

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

Now that the Trail Blazers have clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the focus has turned from whether Portland will make the postseason to which team they’ll play when the first round starts less than two weeks from now.

Portland could end up playing any of the top four teams in the Western Conference, though they are most likely to play the Rockets with the next highest probability being a first-round matchup in Los Angeles versus the Clippers. The Spurs and Thunder are also potential, though both are unlikely to be Portland’s opponent unless they lose all four of their remaining games this season.

But does it matter? Not according to Portland’s starters, who had varying reasons for saying they didn’t have a preference when it comes to their first playoff opponent.

There was Nicolas Batum, who pointed out that all the teams in the Western Conference are tough outs, so there was no reason to hope for one opponent over another.

“We’re in the West, so I don’t really care,” said Batum. “Whoever we play is going to be tough anyways, from San Antonio to Phoenix, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Clippers. That’s (the media’s) job to choose and to debate, that’s not mine. So we’ll see.”

Then there’s Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez, who pointed out that the Trail Blazers have beaten all of the teams above them in the standings, so they’ll be up to the task regardless of which matchup they end up in.

“We’ve played every team in the Top 4 of the Western Conference tough,” said Matthews, “think we split with every team and we haven’t played the Clippers four times yet. We split with OKC, San Antonio, Houston, played the Clippers tough. It won’t really matter.”

Starting point guard Damian Lillard took a more philosophical approach to the question. While they are in control of their own destiny, as winning their final four games would ensure finishing no lower than fifth, they have no say over who ends up in the other seven playoff spots.

“I don’t have a preference, because it is what it is,” said Lillard. “We don’t control that. I know it’ll be either the Rockets or the Clippers. I’m fine with either one.”

In the end, there’s probably not much point in worrying about first round matchups, at least until the regular season is in the books. Sure, there’s always the option of trying to lose games to get an advantageous first round matchup, but those don’t really exist in the Western Conference.

You’d be hard-pressed to argue that playing the Spurs or Thunder would be an easier path to the second round than going up against the Rockets or Clippers. And even if you could piece together some kind of theory proving one opponent is easier to beat than the others, losing on purpose is hardly the way for a team featuring eight players with no postseason experience to enter their first playoff series. Better to go in riding a wave of confidence and with the feeling that no team is unbeatable.

“I just want to get there and play whoever,” said LaMarcus Aldridge. “We’ve played well versus everybody.”

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VIDEO: Lillard Cuts Through Crowded Street Market In New Adidas Ad

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 hours ago

It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.

But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…

Here’s what the folks at adidas have to say about the spot…

In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.

The spot is one of three released by adidas as a part of the “Here To Create” series, which includes football players chasing rabbits through the Everglades and some kind of soccer/motocross amalgam.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Post Free Agency Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 hours ago

With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. And a reminder that the offseason is a great time to leave a review on iTunes!

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Trail Blazers Match Four-Year Offer For Allen Crabbe

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.

ORIGINAL POST

After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…


As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.

But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.

There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…

With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.

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