Portland Trail Blazers (33-39) vs. Brooklyn Nets (35-36)
Thursday, August 13 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Trevor Ariza (opted out), Caleb Swanigan (opted out)
Nets injuries: Jamal Crawford (out), Chris Chiozza (questionable), Donta Hall (questionable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Nets Daily
The Trail Blazers have taken sole possession of the eighth seed — at least, for now. Damian Lillard led Portland to a huge victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, breaking records along the way. With one seeding game left and the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs all closely trailing behind in the fight for the eighth seed, Thursday’s finale will have huge implications for the playoff picture.
What to watch for
- Damian Lillard. Don’t trash talk Dame. After a beef with Clippers players Patrick Beverly and Paul George that started on the court and then took to social media, Lillard came out hot against the 76ers. That wasn't enough to stop the trash talking as it continued amongst the media before Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks. In true Damian Lillard fashion, Dame had 61 points, sealing the Trail Blazers’ victory over Dallas. Lillard has been a force to be reckoned with in the bubble, and he’s really kicked it up a notch in these last two games. I anticipate that momentum will continue against the Nets. Historically, Lillard has performed well under pressure, and I don’t expect to see any differently when the Blazers take on Brooklyn.
- CJ McCollum’s back injury. After Tuesday’s game against Dallas, reports surfaced that McCollum had been playing with a fractured back since last Thursday. While the injury sounds serious, and may be creating difficulties for McCollum’s game, there has been no word of him sitting out for the remainder of the season. It appears he will continue to play with the injury. However, while his presence on the court is needed for the Trail Blazers, playing through a painful injury will likely take a toll on his ability to play to his full potential. In a time where every single game counts, this could be a problem for Portland.
- Nets are locked in 7th. The Brooklyn Nets have secured the seventh seed in the East, which makes this game anything but crucial for them. While they don’t have a whole lot to play for, the Nets are known to always play hard. With a new head coach and young players trying to prove themselves, the Trail Blazers are going to need to bring energy to pull off a win. On paper, this seems like It should be a fairly easy win for Portland, however, I don’t anticipate Brooklyn just giving it away.
What they’re saying
Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily talks about how many of the key players for the Nets were brought up from the G League:
When you watch the Nets, namely guys like Dzanan Musa, Martin and TLC — and how they’ve transitioned game to the big league, it’s only fair to credit the job the Nets have done with the Long Island Nets and those who kept these guys ready for the moment. That goes for Shaun Fein and former head coach Will Weaver, as well as Sean Marks and Long Island GM Matt Riccardi. Of the 14 active Nets, seven played 124 games in the G League this season.
In an article for the New York Post, Brian Lewis says the Nets took the talk of being the worst team in the bubble to heart, quoting point guard Jeremiah Martin:
“Most definitely. Everybody was laughing at us saying the Nets were going to look like this and seeing things all over the internet saying we weren’t going to do this,” Martin said. “So we just take that every day, every practice, keeping that chip on our shoulder, proving everybody wrong and showing everybody who we are.”