Portland Trail Blazers (3-3) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)
The Portland Trail Blazers continue their roller coaster of a start to the season as they face the Philadelphia 76ers. With three wins and three losses, the season is off to a little bit of a chaotic start with the Blazers still trying to find their groove. Even though there have been losses, there have also been flashes of greatness and it sure seems like this might be one heck of a season.
Monday, November 1 - 4:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
76ers injuries: Grant Riller (out), Ben Simmons (out), Joel Embiid (out), Tobias Harris (out)
SBN Affiliate: Liberty Ballers
What To Watch For
- Damian Lillard He’s been off to a slow start in the first six games of the season. Even though a slow start for one of the league’s best point guards may not be too bad, Trail Blazers fans know what he’s capable of. I have a hunch that we are on the verge of a big game for Lillard. Dame Time anyone?
- Maxey and Embiid With Ben Simmons out (whether he will return to the 76ers at some point or move on to an entirely different team is still yet to be determined), the Philadelphia team has had to make adjustments. Second year guard Tyrese Maxey has been one of the bigger adjustments, as the 76ers looked for a solution to Simmons being out. Maxey and Joel Embiid seem to be building a relationship that’s translating on the court and something the Trail Blazers need to watch for.
- Rebounds and 3s The Trail Blazers have been one of the best teams in the league this season when it comes to rebounding, and the 76ers have been one of the worst. If both teams continue that trend, and the Blazers can keep Philadelphia from making too many 3’s, Portland stands a good chance. The problem lies in the fact that Philly is a good three-point shooting team, and the Blazers have struggled to defend the three-point line.
What Others Are Saying
Tyrese Maxey may only be in his second season in the NBA, but the 76ers are already putting him in a huge role. Sean Kennedy of Liberty Ballers talks about how that’s going as of now:
Now, inconsistency should come as no surprise for a player who is still just 20 years old and only logged 15.3 minutes per game as a rookie. As high a ceiling as Maxey appears to have, it still wasn’t entirely fair to expect him to hit the ground running in his first taste as a full-time starter, particularly in a slightly different role playing more off-ball as a fourth option on the offensive end. It’s why despite the notion of Shake Milton starting over Maxey making many fans’ blood boil, there was a certain logic to the idea: Shake would operate better as a floor-spacer when Joel Embiid or Tobias Harris had the ball, while Maxey could be left to cook with the ball in his hands on the second unit.
Following the win over the Pistons, Maxey acknowledged he was still finding his way a bit:
“At the end of the day, it’s a work in progress. Like you said, it’s the fifth game. Stuff is slowing down; kind of figuring out where guys want the ball … trying to find advantages that work for us. So it’s getting a lot easier. Like I’ve said, the coaching staff and my teammates, they’ve been great. They’ve been helping me, they’ve been critiquing me and they’ve been hard on me to help me, so I really appreciate them.”
Coming off a loss on the road to the Charlotte Hornets, Lillard and Norman Powell spoke to the media. Yahoo Sports highlighted some of what they had to say:
Prior to Sunday, Portland’s defense had been solid. But the Hornets shot 52 percent from the field, including 20 of 42 on treys. Clearly, the Trail Blazers’ defense wasn’t sizzling.
“Defense is about energy, effort and being together,” Powell said. “I think guys are starting to realize that. Holding each other accountable. Talking. Guys are making the second and third efforts. Defense is not just a one-effort thing.”
Despite Lillard’s subpar game against the Hornets, he’s hardly fazed.
“I’ve never been a numbers person,” Lillard said. “I’ve never even looked at what the stats are per possession and all that stuff. I feel like I have a pretty good lens on what’s taking place. Right now, I feel like we’re defending well. We’re a different team than we have been over the last few years. We’ve just got to continue to work at that and try to stay on track like we are right now and I think it will be better.”