Beyond the ostensible, the Portland Trail Blazers (44-38) are underdogs entering this playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers (53-29). Between Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Chris Paul, and J.J. Redick, there will be a backcourt battle for sure, but the bigs are a bit more imbalanced. Whether in the post or the parking lot, Blake Griffin packs a punch, and DeAndre Jordan is one of the league’s top rebounders. The Blazers lack that kind of preeminence. In a rundown of individual positional matchups, they are clearly outmanned.
Yet, that has been their persona from day one. The Blazers are seemingly energized by being counted out, and if there is one thing we’ve seen from them this season, it is that they are more than the sum of their parts. Even without an elite frontcourt option, Terry Stotts has kept the Blazers more than relevant on the glass; an important aspect of winning that leads Dan Woike of The Orange County Register to posit the difference-making potential of Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu.
Davis and Aminu are two of Portland’s three leading rebounders – the thing the Trail Blazers might do better than anything else. Portland is fifth overall in the NBA in rebounding, grabbing an average of 45.5 per game.
"It’s huge," Blake Griffin said. "The rebounding, the game that they won, they outrebounded us by a considerable margin, so the rebounding battle’s important. It’s really on us as a team, just like corralling C.J. and Damian is on us as a team. It’s not just on the guards. It’s going to be a team effort when you have guys that are as good as that."
The numbers can be even more astounding. Portland’s success on the offensive glass can be best shown with a metric called rebounding rate, which measures the percentage of available rebounds a team grabs.
After missing shots, Portland gets the offensive rebound 25.9 percent of the time – tied for third-most in the NBA. At 20.1 percent, the Clippers are the third-worst offensive rebounding team in the league.
"They’ve destroyed us there," Rivers said.
In Portland’s only win over the Clippers this season, Davis had 10 offensive rebounds alone. In the four meetings between the teams this season, he’s had 22 offensive rebounds.
Aminu averages 6.1 rebounds per game, while Davis averages 7.4 off the bench. The two of them could be instrumental in racking up wins for Portland. Davis, who has professed that this is the matchup he wanted and noted that it will be an "ugly" series, is ranks 12th in offensive rebounds per game league-wide, despite playing averaging just over 20 minutes. He is one of the Blazers’ most consistent contributors. To see how he impacts Game 1, tune in for tip-off tonight at 7:30 p.m. PDT.
You can read Woike’s full article by following the link above or by clicking here.