Portland Trail Blazers (0-0) vs. Sacramento Kings (0-0)
It’s game one of the 2021-2022 NBA season and the Portland Trail Blazers are taking on the Sacramento Kings. The season opener comes with the obvious excitement of starting a new season of basketball but also with the added uncertainty of a new coaching staff and a not so wonderful preseason.
Wednesday, October 20 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports in OR, WA, & AK; NBA League Pass Elsewhere
Blazers injuries: Tony Snell (out)
Kings injuries: Richaun Holmes (day to day)
SBN Affiliate: Sac Town Royalty
What To Watch For
- A cohesive unit. The preseason was rough for the Blazers. While preseason doesn't count toward the actual season, it does tend to be an indicator of how the team plays together. With a new coaching staff, a new way of doing things, new offense, new defense, and a few new additions to the roster, Portland needed those games to work out the kinks. Now that the games matter, Portland needs to play like a well-oiled machine.
- Defense. It was arguably the biggest issue plaguing the Trail Blazers last season, and it’s been a hot topic of conversation going into this season. New head coach Chauncey Billups has openly discussed his plans to improve the defense. The team had one of the worst defenses in the league last year, and Billups has suggested that they don’t need to be number one in defense, as just somewhere in the middle would be a massive improvement and make the team legit contenders. After all this talk, I expect to see improved defense.
- Damian Lillard. After a controversial offseason (at least for Dame), the point guard is back to talking up his team, saying recently that he won't “jump ship or bail out” when the team faces adversity. He will, once again, lead the Trail Blazers this season on the court. Let’s be honest, win or lose, I’m looking forward to more Dame Time.
What Others Are Saying
Last season, center Jusuf Nurkic was a crucial part of the Trail Blazers ability to succeed. Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian talked about the role he will play going into this season:
Nurkic appears to be on the verge of a big season and Billups said he has been pleased with his play during preseason practices. But if there is one area where Billups would love to see Nurkic improve, it’s finishing around the basket. Nurkic agrees and said he has worked hard on that skill.
“I know that the hard work is going to pay off,” Nurkic said. “I have no doubt. I’m going to definitely be better down there. That’s my goal.”
The team has been a little beat up in the pre-season, but as of now, only Tony Snell will miss the season opener according to a separate article from the Oregonian:
Snell, who missed the entire preseason season with a right foot sprain, had a small setback recently, Billups said, but nothing too serious. Still, Snell will need additional time off to let his injury heal and then work his way back into playing condition.
“I think he’ll be on the court hopefully before two weeks but you can’t throw a guy back out there in a game,” Billups said.
The Sacramento Kings are coming into the season strong, having won every match up in the last couple of weeks. Christian Revas of Sac Town Royalty wrote about their pre-season:
If there were such a thing as a preseason championship, the Sacramento Kings would have won it on Thursday night. With a 116-112 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, the Kings capped off a perfect preseason.