The Brooklyn Nets gave up enough points on Tuesday night to last a lifetime. OK maybe not a lifetime, but 153 points is a laughable amount of points to give up. They do, however, have a chance to get back on track Thursday night in Portland against the Blazers.
Portland is off to a hot start at 10-4; through injuries and what was perceived as a bit of a rebuild in motion it’s been a bit of a surprise to see them get off to such a hot start. Much like your Nets, surprising people as they’ve gotten off to a WTF start to the season.
The Blazers have a lot of balance on their team, showing up in the top 10 (7th) this season in defense and 12th in the league in offense.
There’s too much to dissect when it comes to the Nets, but at this point the two most important topics of conversation are “when is Kyrie coming back?” and “what happened to Ben Simmons?”
Soon (maybe Sunday?) and who the hell knows.
WHO: Brooklyn Nets (6-9) at Portland Trail Blazers (10-4)
WHEN: 10:00 p.m. est
WHERE: YES Network (tv & app), WFAN-FM (radio)
The Blazers do not push the ball up the court, although that changes a bit when Lillard hits the bench. Per NBA.com, Portland has the second-slowest pace in the league. Rather, in the half-court, when the ball starts swinging side-to-side, their aforementioned wings are not afraid to attack the closeout and dish, and rinse and repeat and all of a sudden you have an avalanche of limbs closing in on the basket in waves. Double Lillard, and you have a 4-on-3. “Ice” the pick-and-roll and overload your defense to one side, which Brooklyn has done a lot of this year, and Lillard will make the cross-court pass (a skill which he’s improved tremendously) and now Jerami Grant is attacking a long closeout. A lot of their rim attempts are wild (25th in shooting percentage at the bucket, per Cleaning the Glass), but it wears on a defense and opens up three-point shots, where Portland is one of just three teams shooting over 40% from deep on the season. Brooklyn’s help-and-recovering better look like it did in those first few games of the Jacque Vaughn-era vs. Washington, Charlotte, and Dallas.
Meanwhile, Portland has the seventh-ranked defense in the league...but that is worthy of some skepticism. They give up the 3rd-most corner threes in the league and the 3rd-most shots at the rim (Cleaning the Glass, again). This should be an opportunity to get Kevin Durant in pick-and-roll more often, with Brooklyn instead opting to post him up, recently. Portland will fly around the court defensively, but I’d rather have them make decisions against an active driver than premeditated rotations vs. a standstill offense. Maybe some dribble hand-offs for Joe Harris (who does need to shoot better, but is playing just fine, otherwise) and Seth Curry? Anything to generate some momentum headed towards the paint against a defense that may be punching above their weight at the moment.
For more on the Blazers, check out Blazers Edge.