2019-20 Re-Run: Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets (11/8/19)

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 08: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets guards Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game at the Moda Center on November 8, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. The Brooklyn Nets topped the Portland Trail Blazers 119-115. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 08: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets guards Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game at the Moda Center on November 8, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. The Brooklyn Nets topped the Portland Trail Blazers 119-115. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Watch with me as I break down some of the Portland Trail Blazers’ most compelling games this year. Get on League Pass or scour your D-V-R and follow along.

With no games on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to go and look back at the Portland Trail Blazers‘ season.

If the 2019-20 campaign eventually resumes, this exercise will aid our collective knowledge and understanding of the team as they finish out their schedule. If the season is ultimately cancelled, this will serve as a way for us to pass the time without any live games.

So without further ado, time to watch the second game on the list, which is their 9th game of the year, at home against the Brooklyn Nets. Game recommendation by Sagar Trika.

2nd Quarter Analysis: Blazers edge Nets 29-28

11:45 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Two bad shot attempts from a couple of the team’s young guards on the opening possession of the game. Anfernee Simons takes a stand-still three with 18 on the shot clock. After an offensive rebound, Gary Trent Jr. takes a pull-up three with 8 on the shot clock.

11:05 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Good hard hedge from Anthony Tolliver on the pick-and-roll. He’s able to get back to his man and challenges the shot, but Nicolas Claxton hits it. Most big men are going to come back to their strong-hand on shots away from the hoop, and left-handed players always seem to get away with it more often.

10:40 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Simons gets Claxton switched on to him. He attacks the big man, does a wrong-footed lay-up to keep the shot-blocker off-balance, he just misses it.

10:03 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Terry Stotts with a good ATO (After time-out call) to get Kent Bazemore attacking with his strong-hand. Caris LeVert was able to recover and cut off the left hand drive at the last moment, forcing Bazemore to go back to his right. Kent misses the lay-up with his weak-hand.

9:50 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Bazemore makes up for the miss on the other end by drawing a charge on Taurean Prince. Kent shades him left, but Prince tries to go right anyway. Bazemore anticipates it and takes the hit to the chest.

9:41 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Gary Trent Jr. hits an off-the-bounce three after the Nets are late switching the pick and pop action.

9:22 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Mario Hezonja plays solid man-to-man defense on this possession, but the team’s lack of size leads to a Claxton offensive rebound and an old-fashioned three-point play.

8:55 left in 2nd (offensive possession): C.J. McCollum gets swallowed up by Claxton on a switch. He’s unable to create enough separation or complete the finish. I like the Nets rookie big man, he’s long and can move his feet.

8:41 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Another bad shot from Simons. He tries a three after a step-back and a pump-fake. He also didn’t quite have his balance, jumping a bit to the left on the release. 16 seconds were left on the shot clock.

8:30 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Simons has strong recovery skills after initially getting beat off the dribble. He surprises LeVert with a late challenge at the rim and causes a miss.

8:12 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Solid conservative, drop-back pick-and-roll defense from Tolliver. He plays both the ball handler and roll man and forces a turnover on an attempted lob.

8:03 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Trent Jr. lacking confidence in his ball handling. He needs three dribbles inside half-court to get to the basket. The ball is stripped and goes off his leg.

7:23 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Hassan Whiteside misses a wide open Damian Lillard off a back-screen. The attempted pass is way too late and it leads to a kicked-ball.

6:34 left in 2nd (offensive possession): McCollum has a nice baseline drive and dish to Whiteside. Hassan misses the wide open 7 foot push shot. Big men need to convert these types of opportunities to help the offense function.

6:12 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard draws help from Jarrett Allen on the pick-and-roll. This frees up Whiteside to get the offensive board and draw the foul.

5:50 left in 2nd (offensive possession): McCollum with a gorgeous between-the-legs dribble in transition to manoeuvre around LeVert and get an easy two.

5:28 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Lillard ices the ball screen (force the ball handler away from the pick) between Irving and Allen. Whiteside is too worried about the lob and never gets his body near Irving, who gets an uncontested left hand lay-up.

5:00 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Great defensive possession by Portland. Whiteside with a great recovery block on Allen after helping on Irving in the pick-and-roll. Nassir Little then uses his athleticism to block Garrett Temple’s three-point attempt as the shot clock was running down.

4:37 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Questionable no-call by the refs on a Little drive. Spencer Dinwiddie appears to jump straight up, but he also makes contact with his left forearm.

4:00 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Whiteside doesn’t help on a Joe Harris drive. He again appears worried about the lob, but the lob is insignificant when another player is making an uncontested lay-up.

3:40 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard is so good at changing speeds. He gets Allen to stop with a subtle hesitation dribble, then goes from 0 to 60 in a split second to get past him and finish before he can recover.

3:17 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard able to beat Allen again, this time getting into Allen’s body to prevent the shot blocker from getting off the ground.

3:00 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Simons plays about as good of one-on-one defense on Kyrie as one could expect, but good offense sometimes trumps good defense.

2:47 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Bad call by the official to reward Lillard with three free throws. Dame felt the hand-check on his back, then went into the shooting motion. It should have been an on-the-floor foul.

2:35 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Incredible laziness shown by Whiteside. He doesn’t block out Allen, which leads to Allen keeping the ball alive. He then is slow to react to Harris getting the loose ball and concedes the lay-up. Inexcusable.

2:10 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Nice basket-cut from Little. He notices Harris’ help on Lillard’s drive, and makes himself available for the easy deuce. It’s his first NBA bucket.

1:53 left in 2nd (defensive possession): More solid one-on-one defense from Simons on Kyrie. This time it produces a positive result for the Blazers.

1:31 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Whiteside is late getting back in transition, which leads to a cross-match with Temple. He puts himself in no man’s land, sinking into the paint despite no impending threat. Temple hits the open corner three.

1:00 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard makes a step-back three over Allen. He makes these deep shots look so effortless.

0:24 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Lillard over-helps off Dinwiddie. Irving was able to just make a simple pass to the strong-side corner for an easy three.

0:12 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard with another step-back three. He’s capable of hitting it going either direction, but he does appear to prefer the right-to-left step-back.

3rd Quarter Analysis: Blazers win the high scoring period, 37-35

12:00 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Whiteside steals a rebound away from Hezonja to pad his stats. It happens quite often with him, and it’s part of the reason why a large portion of his defensive rebounding numbers do not impact winning games.

11:40 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Dame starts the 2nd half like he finished the 1st, with a step-back three going right-to-left.

11:20 left in 3rd (offensive possession): The Blazers run a double down screen for McCollum. He fools LeVert with a baseline drive and draws help from Allen. Unlike the defensive rebounding, Whiteside attacking the offensive glass pays major dividends and he gets the team an easy hoop.

11:05 left in 3rd (defensive possession): This is a perfect example of the downside of the Blazers conservative, drop-back pick and roll defense. If the opposition sets the screen high enough out on the floor, players like Kyrie can get wide open three-point looks. Fortunately for the Blazers, he misses this one.

10:55 left in 3rd (offensive possession): C.J. is having a poor night. He has a nice drive but he’s intimidated by Allen at the rim and opts for a difficult wrap-around pass that results in a turnover.

10:41 left in 3rd (defensive possession): The advantage of the conservative, drop back pick and roll defense is when executed properly, the rim should be closed off. LeVert drives into the paint and Whiteside stone-walls him at the basket, with McCollum cleaning up from behind.

10:33 left in 3rd (offensive possession): A truly embarrassing moment for Hezonja. He goes one-on-two in transition and gets blocked. The ball ends up right back in his hands and he misses a wide open reverse lay-in. Thinking the third time would be the charm, he tries a hook shot over Allen, which gets blocked. Boy is it clear that the Power Forward position without Collins is a major issue.

9:30 left in 3rd (offensive possession): The Blazers mix it up and have Bazemore set a screen for Lillard. Taurean Prince doesn’t react right away, and it’s too late. Lillard drills another triple.

9:12 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Bazemore helps-the-helper (Whiteside) on a Kyrie-Allen pick-and-roll action. He helps for a split second too long, and as the ball is swung back to his man (Dinwiddie), Kent closes out too hard and concedes a driving lay-in.

9:00 left in 3rd (offensive possession): This game was a back-to-back for Portland, and McCollum just doesn’t appear to have his legs under him. He gets an open 15 footer that he clanks off the side of the rim.

8:40 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Whiteside is not quite in a defensive stance and has his hips open allowing a left hand drive. Dinwiddie is able to get a scoop shot in under Hassan’s arm.

8:23 left in 3rd (offensive possession): With Lillard hot, the Nets start to have Allen meet him higher on the floor in the pick-and-roll. Lillard opts for a heat-check three and misses. Driving would’ve been the better option, with Allen coming out 20 feet from the basket.

8:16 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Bazemore and Hezonja don’t communicate who they’re guarding in transition until it’s too late. By the time Hezonja knows he should be guarding the ball, Dinwiddie has already made up his mind to take a pull-up three (he hits it).

7:52 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Hezonja hits an incredibly difficult runner from 14 feet off the glass. With all the struggles he has gone through in his career, you still occasionally see glimpses of why he was a former top 10 pick in the draft.

7:42 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Despite McCollum’s offensive struggles, he’s played well defensively, especially getting over the top on screening action. Here he challenges Dinwiddie from behind and forces the miss.

6:35 left in 3rd (offensive possession): The Nets play the Lillard-Whiteside pick-and-roll perfectly, with Allen getting between Lillard and the basket and Dinwiddie navigating in front of Whiteside to box him out. Remember when I mentioned earlier that good offense sometimes beats good defense? Lillard makes a ridiculous left-handed half-hook with Allen draped all over him.

6:02 left in 3rd (defensive possession): C.J. over-helps off of the flaming hot Spencer Dinwiddie on the wing, who burns him with another three.

5:31 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Lillard loses track of Irving on the shot attempt by Joe Harris. The ball is deflected right into Kyrie’s hands, who converts the put-back.

5:16 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Dame seems to be aimlessly dribbling around not accomplishing much, but then just pulls up and hits another incredibly difficult trifecta. When he gets it going, there’s really no such thing as a bad shot for him.

4:59 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Whiteside does his job shutting off the rim on the Irving drive, but none of the other Portland perimeter players help-the-helper, and Allen gets an uncontested lay-up.

4:32 left in 3rd (offensive possession): A good drive from Simons but a rather meek attempt at a finish with Allen contesting. Whiteside uses his impressive wingspan, reaching way back behind him and aiming the ball back into the net.

4:00 left in 3rd (defensive possession): With no players in Stotts’ rotation with Power Forward size, the team’s defensive rebounding is a real problem. Anytime the Blazers’ center is forced to help and leave the paint, the team is conceding follow-up opportunities.

3:41 left in 3rd (offensive possession): This time, Lillard recognises Allen is too high up on the floor, and opts to drive and finishes with a silky smooth left-hand reverse.

3:25 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Lillard is unable to get over the screen and leaves Skal Labissiere one-on-one guarding Kyrie. That type of cross-match usually doesn’t end well.

3:10 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Simons anticipates a screen coming on his right and starts moving that direction. Kyrie recognises Simon’s movement, and rejects the screen and creates an advantage. While anticipation can be a positive trait for a defender, it’s important not to show your cards too soon, especially against the league’s best offensive players.

2:50 left in 3rd (offensive possession): One negative side effect of a player like Lillard catching fire is that the offense can get a bit stagnant. This possession featured little ball or player movement. Simons bails the offense out with a tough step-back three over Dinwiddie. The second year guard certainly doesn’t lack confidence.

2:36 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Irving gets another wide open three off simple screening action. Both team’s base defensive schemes are not equipped to deal with snipers like Lillard and Irving.

1:57 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Skal with good defense on Dinwiddie. First he shuts off the paint and then contests the mid-range jumper.

1:50 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Labissiere follows up the good defense with a great put-back slam. I’ve always liked Skal and believe he still has potential.

1:02 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Trent Jr. gets stonewalled on the screen and is behind Dinwiddie on the shot attempt. To compound the mistake, he watches the ball travel through the air instead of pursuing it. Dinwiddie recovers the rebound and finds Garrett Temple for a three.

0:37 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Good activity from Little attacking the offensive glass and drawing a foul. It’s encouraging to see the youngster with a high motor.

0:26 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Little gets beat off the dribble by Irving. Nassir then gambles trying to poke the ball from behind and takes himself out of the play. By the time he realizes he can still alter Irving’s floater attempt, he’s too late and fouls him.

0:20 left in 3rd (offensive possession): This is a great example of Lillard’s leadership. Despite having 44 points and McCollum struggling mightily, he lets C.J. have the ball on the final possession of the quarter. McCollum rewards his faith/unselfishness with a hoop.

Final 3 minutes: Game on the Line

2:55 left in 4th (defensive possession): Little switches on to Dinwiddie, who isolates. Nassir reaches in with his hand to slow him down, and is called for the foul. You have to move your feet and keep your hand out of the bread basket in this league. The players are too crafty, they’ll draw the foul 9 times out of 10.

2:42 left in 4th (offensive possession): Great play by Lillard, who drives into the teeth of the defense and finds Bazemore in the corner. Kent tries a touch pass to the open Simons on the left wing, but the pass doesn’t have the requisite pace or accuracy, and Simons’ shot is blocked.

2:20 left in 4th (defensive possession): Simons pressures LeVert near half court. While ball pressure is often a positive, pressuring an isolation 40 feet from the hoop is often a fool’s errand. LeVert blows by Simons and feeds Allen for a key hoop.

1:15 left in 4th (offensive possession): Good recognition again from Lillard realising Allen is high up on the floor. Dame drives and draws the foul.

1:00 left in 4th (defensive possession): Good stop by the Blazers here. They switch a Dinwiddie-Irving pick and pop to force another action. Whiteside blocks off the paint on the ensuing pick-and-roll, then Simons and Bazemore execute a flawless switch to shut off a Harris baseline drive and force a miss.

0:40 left in 4th (defensive possession): The Blazers have a time-out down 3 but really don’t have any defensive options to go-to in late game situations. Irving takes advantage of the matchup against Simons, hitting a difficult fall-away on the left side from 10 feet to ice the game. Lillard has an opportunity to help on the drive, but he’s guarding Dinwiddie, who had already nailed 6 threes at that point.

0:05 left in 4th (offensive possession): With the game out of reach, Lillard hits his seventh three to give him 60 in the losing effort. I’m okay with him taking that, there’s only so many opportunities to get to that milestone.

Other Notes:

Hood struggled on defense in the 1st quarter. He allowed an offensive rebound and put-back to Harris. And LeVert cut right by him for an old-fashioned three-point-play. He left the game later in that period with back spasms and never returned.

Stotts used the same offensive set multiple times to get Simons two easy lay-ups. You can see the play at the 5:59 mark left in the 1st.

Lillard with 11 of the team’s 20 points in the 1st. 26 of the team’s 49 at the half. 44 of the team’s 86 after the 3rd. 60 of the team’s 115 at the end of regulation. It’s a shame that such a terrific offensive performance didn’t result in a victory.

Part of the reason Dame’s 60 wasn’t enough was the impressive work from the Nets guards. Irving finished with 33 including the bucket that put the game away. Dinwiddie had 34 and was a +22 in 35 minutes.

McCollum had one of his worst offensive performances of the season. He finished 4-19 from the field, 0-2 from three, and did not get to the free throw line. Despite that, he still finished with a +4 net rating in his 40 minutes of work.

Next. 4 Blazer players that had Dennis Rodman-esque performances. dark

This game is a perfect example of why I was critical of the off-season decisions made by Neil Olshey. Whiteside puts up good rebounding numbers, but he makes far less of a winning impact than Jusuf Nurkic or even Enes Kanter.

Losing two Power Forwards in Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless to Free Agency, and another to injury in Zach Collins (shoulder), left the team with the unenviable position of starting Hezonja, who is simply not a starting caliber player. Olshey signed Carmelo Anthony just one week after this game to help patch up the Power Forward spot.