Portland’s Second Half In Game 1 Provides Some Hope For Game 2

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

If you look at the final score of Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series between the Trail Blazers and Spurs, it’s easy to come away thinking that nothing went right all night for the Trail Blazers. After all, how much could have gone right when you trail by as many as 29 points and end up losing by 24?

But if you’re looking for something to feel good about as you wait for Game 2 Thursday night in San Antonio, consider this: The Trail Blazers outscored the Spurs 53-51 in the second half. Portland shot a better percentage from the field (42 percent to 41 percent) and from three (36 percent to 22 percent), outscored San Antonio 20-14 in the paint, pulled down 11 more rebounds and shot three more free throws in the final 24 minutes of Game 1. And while you can certainly chalk some of Portland’s success in the second half to San Antonio being able to rest on the laurels of a 26-point halftime lead, there’s little doubt that the game would have been much closer if the Trail Blazers had performed in the first half the way they did in the second.

Here’s what Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and some of this players thought of the team’s second-half performance, and what they might be able to apply from those last two quarters to Thursday night’s game …

Terry Stotts: “I thought (Aldridge’s) postups in the second half were very effective. I thought we played better in the second half. Now, part of that was being down 20 and maybe San Antonio didn’t have the same energy as they started the game with. But the fact that, the second half, we played a little bit better and the way we needed to play at both ends is something we’ve got to have a focus to do at the beginning of the game.”

Damian Lillard: “I think we took a lot away from the first game, things we could do better, the things that we did better in the second half that worked for us. We’ve just got to come with a better effort, take those things into consideration. The most important thing is just playing harder with more energy.”

“We just played with more urgency. I thought we flew around more, hands were more active, we were a little more aggressive, period, in the second half than we were in the first.”

Nicolas Batum: “We’re not the favorites — nobody thinks we’re going to win — so we’ve got to play like it and go out, be more angry. We were pissed off against Houston. We were madder than then. It’s got to be the same mentality against the Spurs now.”

LaMarcus Aldridge: “We definitely had a much better second half than first half. We felt like that’s the way we have to start the game. Playing through the post, going to the basket and just being better overall. I thought we came out kind of passive.”

Wesley Matthews: “They came out with an edge, they came out with a fire that ‘We’re champs. All these banners, we put all those up there and this is how it is and this is how you play.’ It was kind of eye-opening for all of us. By no means are we intimidated. I think the game still could have went differently if we had made some shots in the first quarter, in the first half, but we didn’t. We bounced back in the second half and played the way we needed to, it was just too much of a deficit. SO now we know what to do coming into Game 2.”

“What killed us was second-chance points. What killed us was transition points. Us beating ourselves, us not cutting off screens, them riding us up, not letting us get to our offense. Give them credit: they threw their punches and we didn’t respond the way we should have and needed to, but we did in the second half. We cut hard, we got into them and for the most part, our pick and roll coverages and halfcourt defense was good.”

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VIDEO: Phantom Cam Recap And All 12 Of Lillard's Game 4 Field Goals

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 months ago

The Trail Blazers have arrived in Memphis for tomorrow’s Game 5 at FedExForum (tipoff scheduled for 6:30 pm on KGW, TNT and 620 AM), wherein they will try to extend their postseason by getting their first road win of the series.

But before we completely turn the page on Game 4, let’s look back at some of the highlights, if for no other reason than it was the first time during this series that the Trail Blazers turned in a performance worthy of repeated viewing.

First, there’s the phantom cam highlights, which recaps Game 4 in super slo-mo. Damian Lillard’s spin move past Tony Allen and Beno Udrih, which he followed up by finishing with a reverse layup while absorbing contact from Marc Gasol at the 50 second mark has to be one of the best plays of Portland’s 2015 postseason.

Here’s the Vine of that Lillard spin move finish for easier repeated viewing…

And on the topic of Lillard, he scored a career playoff-high 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting in Game 4, which prompted the NBA to put together a package of all of his field goals Monday night. They also tossed in two of his game-high seven assists for good measure.

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VIDEO: Phantom Cam Recap And All 12 Of Lillard’s Game 4 Field Goals

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 months ago

The Trail Blazers have arrived in Memphis for tomorrow’s Game 5 at FedExForum (tipoff scheduled for 6:30 pm on KGW, TNT and 620 AM), wherein they will try to extend their postseason by getting their first road win of the series.

But before we completely turn the page on Game 4, let’s look back at some of the highlights, if for no other reason than it was the first time during this series that the Trail Blazers turned in a performance worthy of repeated viewing.

First, there’s the phantom cam highlights, which recaps Game 4 in super slo-mo. Damian Lillard’s spin move past Tony Allen and Beno Udrih, which he followed up by finishing with a reverse layup while absorbing contact from Marc Gasol at the 50 second mark has to be one of the best plays of Portland’s 2015 postseason.

Here’s the Vine of that Lillard spin move finish for easier repeated viewing…

And on the topic of Lillard, he scored a career playoff-high 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting in Game 4, which prompted the NBA to put together a package of all of his field goals Monday night. They also tossed in two of his game-high seven assists for good measure.

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Trail Blazers Look To Get Damian Lillard Going

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 months ago

The first two games of their first round series versus the Memphis Grizzlies have been rough for the Trail Blazers, particularly for Damian Lillard. While no Blazer has played particularly well thus far, Lillard’s struggles have been the most noticeable, especially when contrasted with his performance in last year’s first round matchup against the Rockets, a series that culminated with the 6-3 guard out of Weber State hitting a now legendary Game 6 series-winning three-pointer as time expired.

While his Game 6 performance is the most enduring memory of that series, Lillard was spectacular through all six games. He averaged 25.5 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and a ridiculous 49 percent shooting from three while also adding 6.7 assists, 6.3 rebound and 1.3 steals in a hefty 44.7 minutes per game (you may recall that three of the six games went to overtime). The Spurs had much more success slowing him down in the second round, holding him to just 17 percent shooting from three, though he still shot 41 percent from the field and averaged almost 20 points and just over six rebounds before the Trail Blazers were eliminated by the eventual World Champions in five games.

Flash forward to today and one imagines Lillard would be happy to play as well as he did against the Spurs, let alone the Rockets, versus the Grizzlies. Shooting just 27 percent from the field and a perplexing nine percent from three, the third-year point guard lamented after practice Friday afternoon that the Grizzlies’ defense has been all but impenetrable through the first two games.

“It’s been tough,” said Lillard. “They do a really good job of clogging up the paint, keeping a lot of bodies in the paint to where it’s kind of uncomfortable being down there because they’re playing physical and they’re playing really good team defense. You’ve got to give them credit, but the good looks I do get, I’ve got to make those shots. I just haven’t made shots.”

Lillard, along with the rest of the team, has studied film in an effort to figure out way that he might get himself going heading into Game 3 Saturday night at the Moda Center. He may try to get the ball up the court quicker and look to set up his teammates more often in an effort to make the game easier for everyone involved.

“Watching film, I see a lot of times where even if they’re crowding up and there’s not a shot for me, there’s times where I can make plays for other guys,” said Lillard. “There’s always adjustments I can make. Using screens better, picking spots better, pushing the tempo. It’s really hard to score on them in the halfcourt when their defense is set, so just trying to create better opportunities, maybe make more plays so they loosen up on just trying to control me so much. Just make the game easier for myself.”

But even though there are areas in which he could better exploit what little the Grizzlies are giving him, if he’s not able to make the shots that he typically makes, be it in the playoffs last year or the regular season this year, no amount of changing up is going to make much difference.That’s why, even though you’re likely to see Terry Stotts try a few new things to get Lillard going, it’s unlikely that wholesale changes are going to be implemented. That would be impractical and also foolish, as much of what the Blazers are doing are the same things that worked well in the past, including against the Rockets in last year’s playoffs.

“We’ve done somethings, we made some adjustments between Game 1 and Game 2, different sets,” said Stotts of what he and his staff have done to try and help Lillard find his offensive rhythm. “He’s missed some good shots. A lot of the shots he’s made over the course of his career, he’s had, so you don’t want to over-analyze and do things — we’re doing a lot of the same things that have gotten him to this point. The ball is going to be in his hands, we’ve looked at different things. But ultimately, the one thing is — for everybody, not just Damian but everybody– passing the ball, finding the ball on the weakside, creating opportunities for your teammates to get easier shots. I think that lends itself to more rhythm at the offensive end.”

Portland will need that improved rhythm, and a steady dose of shot-making, if they’re to best the Grizzlies Saturday night for the first time in their last six tries. If the Trail Blazers managed to get there offensive going and still lose, they’ll know that the Grizzlies are simply a better team on both sides of the ball. But if they can somehow shake off two disappointing offensive performances to take Game 3, they’ll give themselves a chance to repeat their success against the Rockets last season rather than mimicking their failures versus the Spurs.

“We haven’t been down in a situation like this where we haven’t played well,” said Lillard. “Last year against the Spurs we lost the first three games but in that series we were making some shots, they just outplayed us. Now we’re struggling on the offensive end. It’s different but it’s a new challenge. I think we should be excited to have this opportunity because it seems like everything is going downhill. ‘Do they have a chance?’ It’s an opportunity for us to rise up again. They won the two on their court, now we’ve got to try and take it one game at a time and take care of our home court and see where it goes.”

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