There’s no other way to put it: the Portland Trail Blazers got smoked on Sunday evening against the Oklahoma City Thunder. When your opponents shoot 61.1 percent from deep on 36 attempts bad things are likely to happen. The biggest bad thing that did happen was that the Blazers got destroyed, 134-91. Honestly that score flattered the Blazers a bit.
The Phoenix Suns aren’t a fully operational battle station at this point, but they have won three in a row including an impressive 133-115 victory over the Western Conference-leading (!) Minnesota Timberwolves. With a bunch of new faces and some injuries the Suns still have some things to figure out if they want to challenge for a title, but this is a good team with some momentum and they fully expect to easily dispose of the Blazers at home.
Portland Trail Blazers (3-10) vs. Phoenix Suns (7-6) - Tue. Nov. 21 - 6:00 p.m. Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson, Robert Williams III, Ish Wainright (out), Malcolm Brogdon (questionable)
Suns injuries: Damion Lee, Bradley Beal, Yuta Watanabe (out)
SBN Affiliate: Bright Side Of The Sun
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
Keep the questions coming folks! We’ll be looking for more on Tuesday as we get ready to face the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. As for the Suns:
How are Nurk, Drew and Nas doing compared to the last couple years?
I’m mostly interested in whether the change of scenery has resulted in any significant changes in their stats/how they play.
EaglesFanOverSeas had a nice answer so we’ll go with that.
Nas has finally started getting some minutes (he was viewed as filler/end of bench guy) and he is making most of it.
Drew is beasting off the bench (as usual) with his energy, hustle...same things blazers liked him for.
Nurk is still acclimating to a VERY DIFFERENT role on suns. With KD, Book, and Beal - his #1 role is FACILITATING on offense (he is averaging about 5 assists per game, not that many shots)...they run a lot of sets through him. His 3 isnt falling so far...
That team has a lot of scorers/shooters, Nurk role is completely changed.
I’ll just add that Nurkic is driving some Suns fans just as crazy as he drove some Blazers fans. When things are going well Nurkic is a really useful center who does some things that few NBA centers do. When things are going poorly his blown layups and inability to cover mobile centers make him borderline unplayable. Nurk is being asked to do different things than what he did in Portland but the frustrations with what he can’t do haven’t changed.
Can we trade Moses Brown for Drew Eubanks?
No. No we can’t.
From The Ghost of Petteri Koponen:
When Nurk was a Blazer a lot of people here talked about him being a liability on defense. Now that we play against them how can we use his weaknesses to our advantage?
Unfortunately Nurk’s most exploitable weakness is the thing we are most dismal at. Getting Nurk out of paint and shooting over him is kind of pointless when Portland is last in the NBA in three point shooting percentage. Maybe there is some opportunity to get him to defend the high post and look for passes in behind him, but then you have to get around Durant. If Nurk is smart though he won’t get farther than six feet from the basket no matter what we try. Maybe we can give him 25 open layups and see how many he smokes? Otherwise that’s all I’ve got.
Thanks for the questions!
What To Watch For
- Three pointers. It’s really hard to overestimate how important shots from deep are likely to be the story of this game. As mentioned above, the Blazers are last in the NBA in three point accuracy at a stinky 30.5 percent while the Suns are second in the NBA at 39.2 percent. The Suns also take 3.1 more per game than Portland. Add it up and... on second thought, don’t. Phoenix needs to have a poor shooting game from behind the arc and the Blazers need to be on fire. Otherwise expect this one to go similar to how the Thunder game went. The only team more accurate from deep in the NBA than the Suns are the Thunder, and we saw how well that worked out.
- Kevin Durant. At least on the stat sheet Durant is having a vintage year. He’s averaging 31.4 points per game with impressive numbers across the board. Most troubling though for the Blazers is that he is still more than capable of carrying his team when required as he did through double-overtime against the Jazz. While you have to love the talent the Blazers are developing they simply don’t have an answer for four quarters of Kevin Durant.
What Others Are Saying
John Voita at Brightside of the Sun gives a nice primer on what the Suns have been doing well lately.
What is driving their success? Let’s look deeper into five statistics that have occurred during their last three games.
Hindsight is 20-20 but that didn’t stop Luke Duffy of Valley of the Suns from looking at players the Suns might have gone after.
This is not an exercise on chastising the Suns either – there was sound logic in every offseason addition made – but rather it is identifying players who are doing really well elsewhere, and who the team could have gotten on the cheap. As you might expect, a couple of these players are point guards, a continued position of need for the team.
Kevin Durant for MVP? He numbers look a lot like his MVP season writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
One would have to go back to his one MVP season in 2013-14 when he led the league in scoring at 32 points a game on 50.3% shooting, hitting 39.1% of his 3s – at age 25.
Ten years later, he’s producing similar numbers that his teammates think should put him in that conversation again.