The Trail Blazers’ midseason acquisition of Norman Powell has the potential to pay serious dividends in opening round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. In recent trips to the postseason, opposing defenses have loaded up on Damian Lillard and forced Portland’s offense in a different direction. Unlike previous years, the Blazers have a proven third option in Powell.
In the lead up to the Blazers-Nuggets series, Powell spoke with The Athletic’s Jason Quick about his experience as a tertiary contributor in high-pressure situations.
“In the playoffs, they know your superstars, they know what those players are trying to do, and they are trying to take that away and have other guys beat you,” Powell said. “So you have to have guys ready to step up into their role when your stars are drawing a lot of attention. That’s something I had to do multiple times in multiple series.”
With the Raptors, Powell provided clutch scoring alongside DeRozan-Lowry and Leonard-Lowry pairings. Now with the Blazers, he is poised to provide the impact scoring that Portland’s offense has craved in recent years. Powell’s previous success in that role is not lost on Lillard as Game 1 approaches.
“In the playoffs, teams come after us,” Lillard said. “They try to trap me, blitz me, and they’re running at CJ, and I don’t think we’ve had another guy on the wing in recent years that could go out there and take control — scoring the ball, handling the ball — and doing that with confidence and full belief that it’s going to be OK. So I think he definitely brings us a different element, with our three-guard lineup, that we haven’t had going into the postseason.”
Since his arrival in Portland, Powell has been featured in the Blazers’ starting lineup in 27 contests. In those outings, he averaged 17 points, 1.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.
You can read the full story from Quick at The Athletic (subscription required).