2019-20 Re-Run: Portland Trail Blazers v Washington Wizards (3/4/20)

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 the 2019-20 NBA campaign expected to resume on July 30th, it’s the perfect time to look back at the Portland Trail Blazers‘ season. This exercise will aid our collective knowledge and understanding of the team as they aim to finish out their schedule and make the playoffs.

Game 1 (Late Lillard Layup): Portland v Dallas (10/27/19)

Game 2 (Sixty Squandered): Portland v Brooklyn (11/8/19)

Game 3 (Melo Magic): Portland v Toronto (1/7/20)

Game 4 (Tolliver Takeover): Portland v Charlotte (1/13/20)

Game 5 (Overtime Oasis): Portland v Golden State (1/20/20)

Game 6 (Mamba’s Mark): Portland v Los Angeles (1/31/20)

Game 7 (Gobert Goaltend): Portland v Utah (2/7/20)

So without further ado, time to watch the 8th and final game on the list, which is their 63rd game of the year, at home against the Washington Wizards. Game recommendation by Marlow Ferguson.

1st Quarter Analysis: Blazers start hot and take the period 37-30

10:50 left in 1st (offensive possession): Hassan Whiteside catches the ball on the right block defended by the much smaller Mo Wagner. Instead of utilizing a post move or face-up attack to elude the defender and get off a shot, Whiteside tries to go through Wagner and is rightfully called for a charge.

10:32 left in 1st (defensive possession): Whiteside fails to block out Wagner, which leads to a second chance opportunity and a driving bucket for Bradley Beal.

9:27 left in 1st (defensive possession): Carmelo Anthony closes out poorly to Rui Hachimura and concedes penetration. Whiteside is there in help position to rebuff the layup attempt.

9:15 left in 1st (defensive possession): Whiteside jumps to contest Napier at the free-throw line, allowing the dump-off pass to an open Wagner, who finishes with a right-hand slam.

8:30 left in 1st (offensive possession): C.J. McCollum runs a pick-and-roll to absolute perfection. He uses an in-and-out dribble to get Wagner to move a step closer to him, then bounces a perfectly timed pocket pass to Whiteside for the flush.

8:02 left in 1st (defensive possession): Trevor Ariza makes the mistake of going under the screen against Bradley Beal, who tickles the twine from thirty feet.

7:37 left in 1st (defensive possession): Ariza makes a great play poking the ball away from Beal from behind and gets rewarded with a transition bucket on the other end.

7:06 left in 1st (offensive possession): Whiteside shows much better patience as the recipient on the short roll. He takes a dribble to allow for a back-down against the smaller Hachimura, then spins and hits a right-hand jump hook.

6:06 left in 1st (defensive possession): Beal hits a pull-up three off the dribble. He’s one of the few players that can exploit the Blazers drop-back scheme in the pick-and-roll.

4:54 left in 1st (offensive possession): The Wizards are the worst defensive team in the league and they struggle to deal with basic actions. A simple dribble hand-off between Gary Trent Jr. and Anthony leads to a wide-open corner three for Melo.

4:21 left in 1st (defensive possession): The Wizards take advantage of that drop-back scheme by running Beal through screening action away from the ball. He catches it with ample space to fire.

3:44 left in 1st (offensive possession): Anthony, after getting his rhythm attacking the rookie Hachimura in isolation, converts his second consecutive spot-up three. He has 10 points already on 4-5 shooting.

2:57 left in 1st (offensive possession): Ariza throws the lob to Anthony for an easy two out of the timeout. That may have been a play call by Stotts, or it could have been proper recognition from the two veterans to take advantage of Davis Bertans fronting the post (putting your body between the ball and the post-up player to deny the pass).

2:43 left in 1st (defensive possession): Melo loses sight of Bertans off the ball and surrenders an open three. The shot doesn’t fall, but the “Latvian Laser” rarely misses that good of a look.

2:25 left in 1st (defensive possession): Ariza and McCollum don’t correctly communicate a switch, which leads to a back-door cut and basket for Bertans.

1:33 left in 1st (offensive possession): C.J. drills an off-the-bounce triple over the contest of Isaac Bonga. You can tell he’s playing with confidence and swagger, as he’s been the primary initiator during Dame’s absence.

0:18 left in 1st (defensive possession): Ariza showcases good defensive awareness leaving his man on the left wing to take away the pass to the left corner. Often, ball handlers driving baseline are honed in on the pass to the opposite corner because it’s the most natural and most visible pass to make in that situation.

 

2nd Quarter Analysis: Blazers edge the Wizards 35-31

 

11:34 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Mario Hezonja makes a brilliant defensive play recognizing and eluding the off-ball screen and blocking Bertans’ three-point attempt from behind.

10:55 left in 2nd (offensive possession): C.J. takes advantage of the conservative, drop-back coverage by the Wizards on the pick-and-roll. He gets a good screen from Swanigan, pulls up from the free-throw line and knocks it down.

10:41 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Hezonja and McCollum mess up their assignments after a simple back-screen off the ball. Bertans gets another great look from three but doesn’t hit. Hezonja fails twice to block out Bonga, and the Wizards eventually score.

10:06 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Simons tries to take a pull-up jumper but gets blocked from behind by the trailing defender Jerome Robinson. Simons will have to improve the height and speed of his shooting motion if he wants to be a prolific off-the-dribble threat.

7:41 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Hezonja makes some perplexing decisions. He attacks one-on-two in transition and spins right into a Washington defender and turns it over. It’s often the fundamentals (whether to make a chest or bounce pass, whether to attack or reset the offense, failing to convert layups, dropping the ball at inopportune moments, etc.) that end up being his kryptonite.

6:52 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Hezonja fails to execute the scouting report guarding Beal. Mario doesn’t crowd him and allows Beal to hit a warm-up shot essentially.

6:42 left in 2nd (offensive possession): A terrible gamble by the rookie Hachimura leads to an open three for Hezonja, who compensates for his previous couple of possessions by drilling the triple.

6:17 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Hezonja misses a point-blank layup by several feet, which leads to a Robinson three on the other end.

5:20 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard tries to split a couple of Wizards defenders but has the ball poked away. He regains possession and makes a gorgeous bounce pass to Whiteside for a bucket plus the foul. Even when things don’t go as planned for Dame, he can still turn water into wine.

4:52 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard starts the trip off the ball, comes off a double down-screen, and drills a deep three. He has become the total package as an offensive player.

4:39 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Anthony gets fooled by the rookie Hachimura. Rui, with the ball, moves towards the right-wing as if a dribble hand-off is about to take place. He recognizes Melo is anticipating that action, crosses over and drives to the bucket for a left-hand slam.

3:33 left in 2nd (offensive possession): A trait that plagues weak defenses is over-fouling. The Blazers get their third straight trip to the line due to the Wizards being unable to defend legally.

3:09 left in 2nd (offensive possession): The Wizards are playing with no traditional center on the floor, and Whiteside takes advantage by running the floor and getting a quality position in the paint. Ariza makes a beautiful bounce pass to reward the big man.

2:54 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Lillard gets beat on a back-door cut by Bonga. As a defender, it’s essential to see both the ball and your man. Still, when your assignment is in the deep corner, that task is a little more difficult without positioning yourself out-of-bounds along the baseline (which prevents a legal touch of the basketball until re-establishing both feet in-bounds).

1:54 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Bonga makes Lillard pay again for ignoring him in the corner. This time he cuts (which draws Whiteside’s help) and finds Hachimura for the easy deuce.

0:16 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Lillard and Anthony both leave their respective assignments to double Beal as the clock is winding down. Recognizing how much time it takes to pass the ball and get a shot off can be a real advantage to the defense in the closing seconds. By the time Beal passes it to Bonga, the buzzer has already sounded.

 

Other Notes:

 

This game was played just eight days before the NBA officially postponed the season.

Lillard made his return after missing the previous six games (Blazers went 2-4) due to a groin injury.

10:07 left in 3rd (offensive possession): McCollum shakes-and-bakes Hachimura before hitting a right-hand half-hook on the move.

C.J. averaged 33.3 points per game in the six games before this contest, showing he is more than capable of increasing his offensive load with Dame out.

7:44 left in 4th (defensive possession): Bertans showcases his incredible shooting range. He corrals the rebound, drives down the right sideline, and pulls up from the Moda Center logo.

Anzejs Pasecniks’ (AHN-ZAYZ PA-SECH-NICKS) name is so difficult to pronounce that the Blazers broadcast crew started calling him “AP.” A good bit that I wholeheartedly endorse.

5:42 left in 4th (offensive possession): Whiteside has multiple hesitations during his free throw motion. On this particular trip to the line, his unorthodox release leads to two consecutive lane violations (the first on Washington, the second on Portland).

Thanks so much for reading and taking this journey with me. Hopefully, you found this exercise as informative and entertaining as I did. With the NBA’s hiatus coming to an end, we can finally get back to watching live games!

Next: Portland Trail Blazers: Will Wenyen Gabriel play his way into the regular season rotation?
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