Portland Trail Blazers: 3 Takeaways from Game 2 flop vs Denver Nuggets

Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers Denver Nuggets (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers Denver Nuggets (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers /

1. Derrick Jones Jr. deserves more playing time

Between Jokic, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Paul Millsap, the Nuggets have a huge size and length advantage against Portland. The Blazers only play two true bigs in Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter. Coach Terry Stotts has an option stored away on his bench that could even the playing field.

The Blazers acquired Derrick Jones Jr. in free agency for his athleticism and capacity to be a versatile defender. For awhile, he proved his worth on the defensive end of the floor for over half the season. His struggles on the offensive end of the court though, eventually pushed him out of the rotation.

His 31 percent mark from deep depletes the Blazers spacing and allows defenses to ignore him and send help at Dame and CJ McCollum.

From what we’ve seen in the first two games, however, offense hasn’t been a problem for either team. This series is going to come down to who can get more stops down the stretch. DJJ could provide a few by himself.

Even after being relegated to the bench, DJJ finished in the top six in steals and is the second leading shot blocker on the team.

Down big towards the end of the first half, Stotts put in DJJ for some defense and energy to see if he could provide something the team had been lacking. While his minutes did coincide with an incredible hero-ball stretch from Lillard, Jones Jr’s impact was undeniable.

Despite the blowout, DJJ logged only five total minutes, finishing a +8 in his limited court time. He didn’t even get on the floor when Stotts cleared the bench for garbage time. Let’s hope that means that coach is stashing him for Game 3.