Steve Dewald of Blazers Edge gives us a taste of what it was like in the Moda Center during Game 1.
Steve expounds on the wave of confusion that rushed over the Portland crowd when Terry Stotts inserted Meyers Leonard for the first time that evening in crunch time. It had been several games since he had any significant run — still Stotts ran an unsuccessful play for Leonard that would seemingly seal the Trail Blazers’ fate — though it would have a few exclamation marks added to that full stop courtesy of Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. Steve also explains Stotts’ decision to go for two-point shots instead of three-pointers in an attempt to close the thinning gap that was once a Pelicans’ 19-point lead.
Preston asks me to evaluate Alvin Gentry vs Terry Stotts and to speculate on what changes we will see in game two from both coaches.
CJ McCollum continued to struggle against the Pelicans — how much of this is the match up? How much of it is just a slump and bad timing for Portland? Steve dives in and comes out with some ideas to help CJ get going.
Can Alvin Gentry trust Rajon Rondo to guard Shabazz Napier? Maybe not. How can Gentry maximize Rondo while not exposing him?
Jusuf Nurkic saw a minutes reduction while Ed Davis and Zach Collins got large portions of the big man minutes for Portland. Steve explains why Nurkic was limited and gives his prediction on what to expect from the Blazers big rotations going forward.
Outside of a solid overall performance and a big three from Ian Clark the Pelicans bench was basically a no-show. What can we expect from the bench unit, and who do we need to grab the reigns as the 5th option behind Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic and Rajon Rondo?
What if CJ and Damian Lillard never catch fire? Can Portland rely on Evan Turner to create offense? If so, how is he best utilized versus New Orleans? How will the return of Maurice Harkless and his cutting open up the offense for the Trailblazers?
Steve suggests that Al-Farouq Aminu could be Portland’s X-Factor going forward and explains how the former New Orleans Hornet’s versatility on the defensive end could swing things Portland’s way. He also dives into how Portland will adjust their defensive strategies in Game 2.
Is Jrue Holiday the best perimeter defender in the league? Are the rest of the NBA markets aware of this now?
And make sure to check out our predictions for Game 2.
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Also, please follow Steve (@SteveDHoops) and BlazersEdge.com (@blazersedge) for the Portland perspective.