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Blazers’ Three-Guard Lineup Drawing Praise After Two Games

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The three-guard lineup with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell has excelled on both ends, and figures to see more usage going forward.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Two games into their experiment with 6-foot-3 swingman Norman Powell running the “small forward” position, the Portland Trail Blazers are excited about the early returns, so much so that they plan to continue going with it in the near future. As noted by NBC Sports Northwest’s Jamie Hudson, head coach Terry Stotts intends to ride it out a bit further.

“I think we’re going to stay with it to a degree. I haven’t really started thinking about starting lineups against Detroit, but if you look at the numbers, even though Norman got in foul trouble, the three-guard lineup numbers were good against Toronto at both ends of the floor.”

Hudson mentions Powell’s +5.0 plus-minus over his first two games in the black-and-red threads. Perhaps even more telling is that it’s provided a remedy for the Blazers’ historically futile defense.

Thus far on the season, the three-guard lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Norman Powell have played 20 minutes together, and they’ve produced a +11.4 net rating and they’ve allowed just 88.6 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com tracking. That number is loads better than the Blazers’ overall defense, which allows 117.6 points per 100. As Stotts says, the only challenge now will be finding the perfect medium in regards to how often they play together.

“Coach Stotts elaborated on what he liked about the three-guard lineup saying, “it’s something that we’ll continue using. It’s just a question of how much and as I’ve said before, whether to start with it. But the good thing about starting with it is that — that’s going to be 12 minutes a half where those three guys are playing together. If you bring them off the bench, I don’t know that you get that many minutes with the three-guard lineup.”

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