Blazers Struggle Defensively in Game 1 Loss


There’s never been such a thing as a halfcourt track meet Portland and Denver had the first in their series opener. The two offensive juggernauts opened up the game with a blazing first quarter, all knotted up at 32 points through 12 minutes of play.

Portland’s lack of defense was obvious, as Denver hit north of 60% from the field. An interesting battle of wills took place on the block as Paul Millsap applied pressure to their interior defense. Al-Farouq Aminu’s matchup with the former all-star will be a wrinkle to watch if Denver continues to make him a focal point in their halfcourt offense. He finished the first half with 17 points, taking advantage Portland‘s smaller bigs in the process.

Good Start to the 2nd

To start the 2nd quarter it was Portland’s bench that gave them a slight edge over the Nuggets. For 5:24 of the period it would be the Rodney Hood show. Hood’s instant offense gave Portland their first lead of the game, but Denver’s would soon jostle the lead from them.

For the half, Portland shot well from all three levels– hitting 52% from the field and 43.8% from beyond the arc is normally enough to take a lead, but their 10 free throw attempt deficit plagued the Blazers.

In the third quarter, Portland’s shooting efficiency would plummet as Denver ramped up their defense. Now faced with strong closeouts, the team shot 1-6 from deep. With a drying shooting well, the Blazers turned to the free throw line where’d they go a perfect 10 for 10, six coming from Damian Lillard.

Hood and Kanter Help Lillard Offensively

Rodney Hood, professional scorer LLC showed all the moves in Game 1. He spotted up from three and hit pull up jumpers amounting to 17 points. Professional scorer in crime Enes Kanter bullied his way to 26 points as well, hitting multiple midrange J’s. Lillard closed the night out with 39 points, 14 of which stemmed in the fourth quarter.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Nuggets walk off the court with an eight-point victory. Both teams’ shooting splits were nearly identical– sinking the same number of field goals with Denver connecting on just one additional three.

Disappointing Defense Dictated Game 1 Demise

The difference came at the defensive end in favor of the victors. Portland had more turnovers than Denver despite points off turnovers favoring the Blazers by 17. By all means Portland played well, but they were simply unable to get as many stops as Denver did. An extra three-pointer and seven more free throws was all the difference.

If this game is a precursor to what the next four plus games will be, then we’re in for a two arms race of epic proportions. Portland will need to pick up their defensive intensity and find a scheme to fix their size issue. Their offense has never been an issue, but it will be the least of their worries when so many of Denver’s bigs are feasting.

About Allen Pettigrew

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