Portland Trail Blazers – Denver Nuggets: 3 defining plays from Game 2

Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Damian Lillard Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Damian Lillard Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /
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Portland Trail Blazers Norman Powell
Portland Trail Blazers, Norman Powell (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

2. Norman Powell has to take advantage of his matchup

Earlier in the season, the Trail Blazers made a scrutinized trade sending out Gary Trent Jr. for Norman Powell. Trent had a great run in Portland and was thought to be a big part of the team’s future after breaking out in the bubble last year. Still only 22 years old, the former Duke Blue Devil has already established himself as one of the best young shooters in the league.

That made Portland’s decision to trade him for the former Raptor Norman Powell questionable. It was obvious that the Blazers were making a win-now decision and potentially jeopardizing their future in the process.

So far, Powell has not given the Blazers faithful much reassurance. Portland this season had a 24-17 record when they traded away Trent. After acquiring Powell, they finished the year 15-12.

Powell has more experience than Trent, with 13 playoff series under his belt including a championship run. He’s also a better defender and ball-handler. Theoretically, he’s a better fit next to Dame and CJ McCollum. Thus far, though, he’s yet to make a significant impact on the win column for Portland.

This series against Denver is the perfect opportunity for Powell to prove his worth. One of the main adjustments the Nuggets made for Game 2 was sticking Aaron Gordon on Dame for the majority of the night. That freed up Powell to go to work against weaker defenders Facu Campazzo and Austin Rivers.

In this play, the Blazers use screens to draw out Jokic, while Dame keeps Gordon 35 feet away from the hole with his range. This results in an isolation situation for Powell with only Rivers between him and the cup. Norm makes quick work going right at Rivers for an easy two points.

Despite being guarded by a smaller defender for most of the night, Powell ended the game with only nine shot attempts. He took advantage of the looks he had tallying 15 points total. If Denver continues to stick Gordon on Dame though, Portland is going to need Powell to be a lot more aggressive and make a lot of plays like the one shown.

It’s time for Powell to prove his worth for the Blazers.