According to Jason Quick of NBCSportsNW the Portland Trail Blazers have discussed possible lineup changes heading into Game 2 of the first round match up between the Blazers and Pelicans.
“We’ve discussed matchups,’’ Blazers coach Terry Stotts said Monday after practice. “Whether we pull the trigger on change, that’s to be determined.’’
Stotts wouldn’t reveal whether those internal discussions involved lineup changes or assignment adjustments.
Coach Terry Stotts has tinkered with the starting lineup and the bench rotation throughout the season for numerous reasons, sub par performance, optimizing match ups, injuries or riding the hot hand. So it wouldn’t exactly be out of the realm of possibilities to see Stotts reach into his bag and make the change if the situation calls for it. He’s been a part of such a switch with bigger stakes on the line.
Stotts, meanwhile, was part of the Dallas staff in 2011 that switched its starting lineup in the middle of the NBA Finals, inserting jitterbug JJ Barea into the Game 4 starting lineup instead of Deshawn Stevenson. Down 2-1 at the time, the Mavericks went 3-0 with Barea and secured the NBA title in six games.
The surprise change here may just be a return to normalcy. Maurice Harkless has been active in practice recently after having surgery on his left knee.
One change that could happen is the return of Maurice Harkless for the Blazers. The starting small forward has been upgraded from out to questionable for Game 2 after he missed the season’s final nine games and Game 1 recovering from a March 28 surgery on his left knee.
Stotts discussed a few potential match ups but didn’t exactly show his hand as to where the lineup change could take place. One in particular that may be of interest is the match up of big men Anthony Davis and Jusuf Nurkic.
Stotts said he felt starting center Jusuf Nurkic “did a good job” against Davis, noting that five of his eight baskets against Nurkic were outside shots, which indicated Nurkic did a good job of keeping Davis away from the basket.
As per usual, the Blazers are playing this one close to the vest and it could absolutely be a smokescreen. Coaches around the league do this sort of thing all the time, whether it’s in the cards or not it certainly doesn’t hurt to plant the seed and play a little mental warfare. Brett Brown, head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers recently swapped out starting big man Amir Johnson in favor of swingman Ersan Ilyasova at halftime of their Game 1 victory and then played coyly heading into Game 2 about which way they would go.
To read the article in it’s entirety click here to get the full rundown of how the Blazers and coach Stotts evaluated particular match ups and to glean some insight into how they may attack tonight’s game.