This was a rough week for Trail Blazers fans after enduring 3 tough losses to the defending champs. In times like these, I prefer to focus on the guys who stepped up rather than the guys who got shut down. There is plenty of coverage about when went wrong, so let’s look at things that the Blazers can build on.
Mom’s Favorite: Confident Meyers Leonard
Among my friends, whenever Meyers Leonard has a big performance, we call him Miles Leonard, just like the announcers for ESPN, TNT and other networks do on a regular basis.
For Meyers Leonard to persevere for so long under trying circumstances, that he could push forward to make himself better and always be prepared to get the call, that he could endure boos and confidence-busting trolls online and in the arena for years while focusing on what is best for his team, that he could go through all of this only to have his name repeatedly misremembered by professionals is just too much. The nickname Miles is our way of taking that insult (can’t be bothered to learn his name) and turning it on its head. Meyers Leonard, we see you, and we see that superhero alter ego Miles inside you too.
While it was a tough week for Trail Blazers fans, Meyers/Miles Leonard showed he’s not done yet. He played in two games this week, averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and three assists. I particularly enjoyed his assists because although the offense isn’t running through him like it did through Jusuf Nurkic, he made decisions with confidence and passed up his own shots to find teammates who had better ones. When he did take shots, they were in rhythm. He rolled well, found cutting Moe Harkless, and even tossed a behind-the-back pass to CJ McCollum. Leonard provided options when the Blazers needed options. Here are some highlights:
Gold Star: Zach Collins playoff experience
I think that this playoff run will prove to be valuable for Zach Collins. It is a strange coincidence that Collins’ numbers for the playoffs are nearly identical to his regular season numbers.
In both the regular season and the playoffs he played 17.6 minutes, averaged 6.6 points per game and had .9 assists. His rebounding went down slightly from 4.2 per game during the regular season to 3.7 in the playoffs, and his blocked shots improved a bit from .9 per game to 1.3 during the playoffs.
While his average for rebounds per game may have dropped slightly, my anxiety over his rebounding has also decreased. Earlier this season I was frustrated with what appeared to be his struggle to hold onto the ball under the basket. In pressure situations during this playoff run, he has gotten better at this, using two hands to corral the ball and fighting to hold on to it. Earlier in the year, opponents didn’t hesitate to strip it right out of his hands, or he would bobble it and lose it in a crowd. Here are some rebounding highlights from the Denver and Golden State series. I’ll admit they are not particularly flashy, but the important thing to watch for is when he uses two hands, and when he wins it in a crowd.
Maurice Harkless Game One. Feels like a long time ago, but Maurice Harkless had a very good Game One, 17 points, and 3 blocks.
Curry vs. Curry. As a mom, I feel Sonya Curry’s dilemma, trying to decide how to root for both Seth and his brother Stephen Curry. I think her keeping her jacket on the night she donned the Steph Curry jersey is a pretty good indication she wants the Blazers to win.
Sonya Curry’s Jean jacket is so cute I need one pic.twitter.com/awlFklPuYC— Grace Moran (@amazinggrace_13) May 17, 2019
Seth strips Steph. The Currys have done a good job, I think, in a difficult situation--as difficult as it can be to have two sons playing in the NBA Conference finals. The Curry family supporting both brothers is a sweet story, but Seth Curry getting 4 steals from his super star brother is even sweeter!
Curry vs Curry— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) May 17, 2019
Advantage Curry pic.twitter.com/g9x0Q72SpQ
CJ McCollum meets Jennifer.
.@CJMcCollum finally meets Jennifer! pic.twitter.com/TxWnLq0iwC— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) May 16, 2019
Box outs getting better all the time. As of Saturday night, Meyers Leonard leads all players in the Conference Finals in box outs (6.5 per game)
Coach Yim returns. After a serious car accident, Coach Jon Yim is back at practice, overseeing free throw shooting. So glad to see you at the practice facility; best wishes on your continued recovery, Coach!
Working on free throws pic.twitter.com/3J92G3oA3G— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) May 19, 2019
That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorites. Some weeks are leaner than others. What did you see this week that you liked? Let us know in the comments below!