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O’Connor: Blazers Need to Rely on Backcourt Shooters

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The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor suggested that the Trail Blazers look to smaller lineups to open up space for Damian Lillard.

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are locked in a 2-2 battle in the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Through four games, Denver’s defense has done an adequate job of holding Damian Lillard in check. The former Weber State standout exploded for 39 points in Game 1, but his numbers have steadily dipped since his monstrous string of performances against the Thunder.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor explored what the Blazers can do to get Lillard back on track. O’Connor suggested that Portland needs to keep Paul Millsap honest on defense. In order to do so, the Blazers will likely have to sacrifice size.

One lineup tweak the Blazers could make is using a small backcourt of Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and Seth Curry or Rodney Hood more frequently. That would give Portland a trio of shooters and Aminu, alongside a shooting center in Zach Collins, or another non-shooter like Enes Kanter. The Blazers have had some success in doing this: They have outscored the Nuggets by 17.8 points per 100 possessions when Lillard is on the floor with Collins, and they get outscored by 7.3 when Lillard is paired with Kanter. Though the sample size with Collins is only 39 minutes, it would be worth trying more considering its promising results so far.

Both Curry and Hood have produced points from beyond the arc against the Nuggets. On Sunday, Curry’s four three-pointers paved the way to his 16-point outing. Hood went 3-4 from the field for seven points, marking the first time he failed to notch a double-digit point total in the Western Conference Semifinals.

You can read the full post from O’Connor at The Ringer.