The Blazers (31-37) continued to battle with the Denver Nuggets (33-36) for the final Western Conference playoff spot this week. The Blazers stayed even with Denver going 3-1 in the first four games of their 5-game road trip, while the Nuggets went 2-1. The Blazers trail the Nuggets by 1.5 games heading into tonight’s contest against the Heat in Miami.
ICYMI, here’s a quick roundup of the week’s coverage from Blazer’s Edge.
Nurkić-Mania Still Running Wild
The theme of the first part of the week continued to be Nurkić fever.
How Nurkić’s Arrival Impacted Noah Vonleh: On Monday Peter Sampson wrote about how Jusuf Nurkić has impacted Noah Vonleh. He emphasized the gravity of Nurkić in drawing defenders and rebounders to him, as well as how Nurkić has helped Vonleh improve defensively.
Nurkić in the Offense (Video): Also on Monday, Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports provided an excellent video breakdown of how Nurkić’s presence has provided a positive for the Blazers. Steve Dewald wrote about it for us.
Nothing Can Bring Down Nurkić: In his Tuesday mailbag, Dave Deckard answered three questions about Nurkić fever. Including: “What kind of power forward would be an ideal fit to play alongside Nurkić?”
Nurkić on the Podcast!: Nurkić was also discussed in both of our podcasts this week. Tara and Jo posted a podcast on Monday. They discussed Nurkić (of course) as well as Shabazz Napier and Boogie Cousins. Dan Marang was joined by Steve Dewald for the Blazer’s Edge podcast on Thursday. Together they discussed the impact Nurkić has had on Damian Lillard, the potential and return of Evan Turner.
Denver’s Perspective on the Nurkić/Plumlee Trade: Blazer fans have been pretty happy with Nurkić and it turns out Nuggets fans are pretty happy with Mason Plumlee. Ryan Blackburn from Denver Stiffs highlighted Plumlee’s impact in Denver. Steve Dewald broke down Blackburn’s article, pointing out that the combination of Plumlee and Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic has a +11.6 rating while the combination of Nurkić and Jokić had a -15.6 rating for Denver.
Games This Week
Blazers at Suns, March 12: The week started off with a 110-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns last Sunday. Led by Lillard and CJ McCollum led the way, scoring 39 and 26 points, respectively. While the win was good, Eric Griffith called out the Blazers for their inconsistent focus and effort in his analysis of the game.
Blazers at Pelicans, March 14: The focus and effort was consistently poor in New Orleans on Tuesday. The Blazers lost 100-77 to the Pelicans. They looked so bad Dave Deckard compared their performance to the terrible 2008 Paris Hilton movie “The Hottie & the Nottie.” Yikes.
Blazers at Spurs, March 15: Portland got back on track the next night in San Antonio with a surprising 110-106 road victory over the Spurs. Lillard again led the way with 36 points while McCollum added 26 of his own. Besides the unlikely Blazer victory, the highlight of game was probably Manu Ginobili accidentally making a free throw when the Spurs were down three with only 2.5 seconds left:
OK Manu, we NEED you to miss this one... pic.twitter.com/d6LopvKt9r— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 16, 2017
Blazers at Hawks, March 18: Evan Turner returned to action for Saturday’s road game against the Atlanta Hawks. Portland jumped out quickly against the Hawks leading 40-18 after one quarter. Six Blazers scored in double figures in a balanced effort. Dave Deckard called the game “as close to a perfect all-around game as the Blazers have put together all year.”
Looking Ahead: Portland finishes off their road trip today in Miami against the Heat before getting a 3-game home stand against teams with losing records (the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, and Minnesota Timberwolves).
The Blazers will have a good opportunity to catch Denver this week. The Nuggets play road games against the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers with a home matchup with the Cleveland Cavilers in between.
- Speaking of the Nuggets, on his The Lowe Post podcast on Monday ESPN’s Zach Lowe said he thinks Portland will overtake the Nuggets based on their remaining schedules.
- We were all glad to hear Cliff Robinson is recovering after being hospitalized for a “minor brain hemorrhage.
- David McKay caught up with Terry Porter who talked about the loss of Jerome Kersey and coaching at the University of Portland.
- Will Ready took an in depth look at replays in the NBA and discusses some problems with them.
- Finally Eric Griffith wrote a review of George Karl’s recent book Furious George.
Be sure to check back on Blazer’s Edge throughout the week to stay up to date on all the latest Trail Blazer news and analysis.