Championship Odds: +8000
Damian Lillard: 28.9 PPG, 4.3 REB, 7.8 AST, 1.0 STL
C.J. McCollum: 22.5 PPG, 4.1 REB, 4.3 AST
Hassan Whiteside: 16.3 PPG, 14.2 REB, 1.2 AST, 3.1 BLK
Carmelo Anthony: 15.3 PPG, 6.3 REB, 1.6 AST
Players Sitting Out:
Trevor Ariza: 11.0 PPG, 4.8 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.6 STL
Rodney Hood (Achilles Surgery): 11.0 PPG, 3.4 REB, 1.5 AST
Caleb Swanigan: 3.0 PPG, 4.7 REB, 1.5 AST
|7/31||Memphis Grizzlies||4:00 PM||NBA TV|
|8/2||Boston Celtics||3:30 PM||ABC|
|8/4||Houston Rockets||9:00 PM||TNT|
|8/6||Denver Nuggets||8:00 PM||NBC Sports NW|
|8/8||Los Angeles Clippers||1:00 PM||TNT|
|8/9||Philadelphia 76ers||6:30 PM||NBA TV|
|8/11||Dallas Mavericks||5:00 PM||NBC Sports NW|
The Portland Trailblazers enter the bubble 3 1/2 games out of the 8-seed in the Western Conference. Although they sit just outside of the playoffs right now, they should not be slept on during bubble play.
Of course the Trailblazers are headlined by superstar point guard Damian Lillard, who was recently announced to be on the cover of NBA 2K21. Lillard and his backcourt counterpart, C.J. McCollum carry much of the offensive load for the team and will continue to do so as they close out their season in hopes of pushing themselves into a playoff spot. Damian Lillard is a player with multiple 50 and 60-point outings and has the ability to single handely win games for the Blazers.
The Trailblazers were lucky enough to return two big men before the start of bubble play. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins will both be at full go and are expected to make a big impact on both ends of the floor right away. After struggling all season long in the rebounding department, Collins and Nurkic should be able to bring the Blazers back to old form. Damian Lillard spoke about how important it is for the team that two of their best big men will be in action, “Our rebounding is going to be much better than it has been all season long. Us being able to play through the bigs because they can both pass the ball really well.”
It should not be ignored that Hassan Whiteside has averaged 14.2 REB this season, which is simply an incredible accomplishment. Adding Collins and Nurkic will finally give Whiteside some help on the boards.
The loss of Trevor Ariza will make things a bit more challenging for the Blazers, who were already thin in depth on the wing. Ariza played over 33 minutes per game and was a key contributer during crunch time. While he isn’t a superstar, his absence will challenge the team.
The Trailblazers have an uphill battle to get to the 8-seed, but they have a realistic shot in getting it. Anytime your team has the best player on the floor, you have a chance to win the game. This often times is Damian Lillard. The Blazers will go as far as Damian Lillard takes them.