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Portland Trail Blazers at Indiana Pacers Preview

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The Blazers look to keep things rolling after a dominating performance to open the season.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (1-0) at Indiana Pacers (1-0)

Friday, October 20th - 4:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Noah Vonleh (out), Zach Collins (probable)
Pacers injuries: Myles Turner (out), Glenn Robinson III (out), Ike Anigbogu (day-to-day)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Indy Cornrows

Injury updates:

  • Myles Turner has been diagnosed with a concussion and is ruled out.

The best defense in the league faces off against the best offense on Friday night. Ok, it’s a small sample size (one game each), but after holding the Phoenix Suns to 76 points in a 124-76 blowout to start the year, the Blazers head to Indianapolis to face a Pacers team that scored a whopping 140 points in its season-opening 140-131 win over the Nets.

Last year Portland split two games with Indiana, winning at home, but losing on the road. However, both teams look significantly different now than in their previous meeting, which was before the Nurkic trade. This offseason the Pacers traded All-Star Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder and lost starting point guard Jeff Teague to the Minnesota Timberwolves in free agency.

What to watch for

  • CJ makes his season debut. After being suspended for opening night for leaving the bench during a preseason altercation, CJ McCollum will suit up for the first time this season. He scored 34 points in Indianapolis last year—a game the Blazers lost 111-118.
  • Dame looks to build on a solid start. Damian Lillard started the year well with 27 points in 30 minutes on Wednesday, adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists with zero turnovers. Meanwhile, the Pacers gave up 30 points to Nets starting point guard D’Angelo Russell on Wednesday, so Dame should have plenty of opportunity to score. He averaged 30.5 points in the two meetings with Indiana last season.
  • Balanced scoring from the Pacers. Eight players scored in double figures in Indiana’s win over the Nets. Newly acquired Victor Oladipo led the way with 22 (19 of which were in the first half), while Myles Turner and Darren Collison each scored 21. With Paul George gone, this Pacers team is in a transition year. Turner, who added 14 rebounds and 4 blocks, is the most likely break out candidate, but they will need contribution from multiple players if they want to remain competitive.
  • Can the Blazers’ defense continue? Sure, it was against the Nets, but the Pacers looked great offensively in their season debut. They scored 140 points despite only shooting 26.5 percent on 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Portland’s defense stifled the Suns. Indiana is wanting to play with more pace this season, so Portland’s transition defense will be especially important.

What they’re saying

Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows was impressed with the speed of the Pacers’ backcourt in their first game:

Get the ball and go was the mindset from the get go and with Darren Collison and Victor Oladipo leading transition for the Pacers the end-to-end speed is also astonishing. Both players are the offspring of parents who were track stars and left their boys lotsa speed and they love to use it. Collison is quick without a doubt, but even he marveled at Oladipo's speed, saying after the game that it reminds him of his own speed a few years earlier. Zoom!

That threat to attack helped the Pacers put up 102 shots with about 75 percent of those shots coming from behind the arc or around the rim.

Indy Star reporter Clifton Brown wrote that Indiana needs to continue to move the ball:

Eight players in double figures? Pacers coach Nate McMillan could not have wished for anything better. He has preached playing unselfishly since the beginning of training camp, and this showed the players have bought what McMillan has been selling. The ball moved. Lance Stephenson (16 points, 6 for 19 shooting) was most guilty of taking ill-advised shots, but he also attacked the basket and set up others for opportunities. This is how the Pacers have to play to be successful. They don’t have George to carry the offense anymore. But they have plenty of players who can score if they share the ball and play this style.