After the elation of a last-second victory two nights ago, the Portland Trail Blazers got blown out by the offensive juggernaut Milwaukee Bucks on the road.
The end scoreline flattered the Portland Trail Blazers in the end, getting the best of the Bucks bench warmers in the last quarter to bring down the end margin. It was a brutal offensive beatdown by Milwaukee, scoring 79 first-half points and 113 through 3 quarters.
In this piece, I will answer a key question I had coming into this game from my road trip preview and look at some important reviewing points from the game.
How will the Portland Trail Blazers defend Giannis Antetokounmpo?
The end stat line of 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists suggests the Blazers did an amazing job, but the pure presence of Giannis Antetokounmpo was the key reason for the Bucks lethal 3-point shooting.
The Portland coaching staff trusted Robert Covington to defend one on one around the perimeter and then collapse the paint on a drive. These defensive collapses left shooters such as Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, and D.J Augustin wide open for three-point shots resulting in a 21-42 split.
So while the individual statistics of the reigning MVP weren’t scary, the effect he had on the game certainly was.
Defensive worries continue:
This Portland Trail Blazers team’s defensive performances have been a topic of conversation for fans at the start of this season, and giving up 113 points in 36 minutes did not ease the concerns. The Bucks did what they wanted, shooting 55% from 2 and 50% from 3.
The defensive gameplan around Giannis allowed for wide-open looks from behind the line and got people in rhythm. Once the role players of the Bucks got going, there was no coming back.
Regardless of injuries or the quality of the opponent you are playing, giving up 113 points in 3 quarters will never end well. The Blazers have to figure out how to be better on this side of the floor.
Nassir Little is the bright spot:
In what was a tough night for fans, Nassir Little provided a bright spot. In what was undeniably his best game for the Portland Trail Blazers, Little had 30 points on 5-7 from behind the arc, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
His hustle and energy was unmatched by anyone on the roster, and did not stop playing hard until the final buzzer. His shooting form, one of the big concerns as a rookie, looked smooth and fluent, and his confidence shooting the ball was impressive.
It’s unfair to expect this to continue, however, what will come of this for Naz? Will he become a 20+ minute rotational player with Carmelo Anthony struggling?
Fan’s are upset at this performance, and rightly so. However, we should not overreact. This was always an extremely tough task for the Blazers, whether they are at full strength or have some key personnel out.
At this stage, we are 1-2 for the road trip with a game against the struggling Washington Wizards tomorrow. If we can be 2-2 with games against Philadelphia and New York left, it will be a passable road trip.
Time to bounce back tomorrow!