Welcome to the 309th edition of the Holy Backboard Podcast. I am Dustin here in Rip City, and I got my
[00:00:25] Sage: man Sage Chill. Live in direct man.
[00:00:28] I, I’m ready to talk about this. These games that have happened, it’s the, this is the first holy backboard we’ve done in a while where we’re recounting wins. It’s, it’s been a , it, it has
[00:00:41] Dustin: been a minute. When you’re genuinely excited for what you witnessed or heard,
[00:00:47] Sage: last year, if we won three in a row during the tank race, We’d be, we’d be upset.
[00:00:55] Dustin: One thing that really brought a smile to my face is [00:01:00] when I posted last week’s episode, and that one was an absolute tank of an episode. It was a unit, it was an
[00:01:08] Sage: hour, 47
[00:01:09] Dustin: minutes, hour and 40 plus. Yeah. But I had, you know, Tara from the Blas. What podcast? Uh, long story, longer, one of the og uh, listeners, both fantastic individuals each say that they listened to our, our podcast while they were on a road trip, or just, that was a perfect
[00:01:29] Sage: road trip
[00:01:30] Dustin: Yeah. So it was just a beast. Like, you get to hear us, just kind of, It was, it was kind of a, an emotional rollercoaster podcast because, you know, we were, you know, coming off of a terrible preseason, but yet still excited. And then we’d come out and predict, you know, both two and one, uh, weeks. Yet you just didn’t know.
[00:01:52] Like the, the vibes were a little off the, I mean, it just, it was a weird preseason, so we didn’t really know what to expect. But, but thank [00:02:00] you to everyone who, who listened to that one. Uh, I’m sure this one will not be as long because I am tired as hell. Um,
[00:02:08] Sage: you’ve had a busy week of, uh, sports attendance.
[00:02:12] It has been a very
[00:02:12] Dustin: busy sports weekend. Uh, Friday went to the home opener with you and, and stu. Uh, so we got to witness that in person and obviously you’re wired and you can’t go to sleep right away. And I made my way down to Ox Stadium on Saturday. So I got up at six, had to make myself my breakfast burritos.
[00:02:35] Um, that’s just Saturday tradition and drove down there. Uh, wonderful game. Oregon absolutely took care of business against the, the Bruins on national tv. And then, you know, you make your way back up home. Oh, well, we have another, you know, you know, I can’t sleep all the way through. I gotta get up, you know, do a little chores.
[00:02:56] But then the Blazers playing the Lakers for a brunch time matinee [00:03:00] in Los Angeles. And, you know, they get my heart racing co-op to a early lead Lakers storm back, vintage Dame time photo finish. And, and here we are. Great weekend of sports. Uh, the, the beavers took care of Colorado as well. So if you are a state of Oregon sports fan, uh, the thorns one, two to one, two.
[00:03:21] So everyone is getting dubs in the beaver state. But sage, let’s recap the, the week that was for your Western conference leading, uh, Portland Trailblazers, Uh, three and oh on this young season. Uh, opening night, they go down to Sacramento. Take a, uh, talk about an emotional rollercoaster, uh, an emotional rollercoaster of a game defeating the Sacramento King’s one 15 to 1 0 8.
[00:03:48] Despite, uh, not very good performances from Willard and Simon’s. Uh, then they head back home on Friday. They take care of the sons in overtime, thanks to the Junior, [00:04:00] Junior Sky Hook from Anny Simons one 13 to one 11. And then, as we mentioned, they travel back down for a one game road trip against the La Lakers who were hungry for their first win.
[00:04:11] They have been ridiculed on media, on social media, wherever you are, people are mocking the Lakers and you knew they were hungry, but Portland was just a little bit better on the Sunday afternoon, and Dame was just a little bit better than everybody else on the floor putting up 41 points on for the second consecutive game to lead the trailblazers to a 1 0 6, 1 0 4 victory, putting them, as I mentioned at three wins.
[00:04:37] And no defeats. Sage, there’s a lot of good things to talk about right off the top of your head, what was the best thing that you saw this week?
[00:04:46] Sage: Hmm. It’s gotta be the last two games from Damien and Willard. He obviously had some troubles in the first game, but if you look at like the advanced numbers, he had like 17 potential assists we just missed.
[00:04:58] So I think that that stat line [00:05:00] would’ve looked a lot better if he, we had, if he had like whatever points he had and then 17 plus this, I mean, it would’ve looked better. He, he got everybody involved in the game and then the other two, he was just like the, the, the, the shining star of just getting buckets and clutch buckets and, you know, momentum changing buckets.
[00:05:19] It, it was really like the Damian lit of old. And of course there’s gonna be people that say he lacked burst, but he might lack. In the first half of the court. But when you get into where the basket actually is, he’s very quick and very nimble and can get to places really easily. So seeing Dame play healthy, he got into that fifth gear that we talked about last year.
[00:05:42] You couldn’t get into that top tier where you saw the speed boost. This year, he’s gotten to that speed boost and been able to finish at at the rim, which is really important because we don’t really have any at Theri at the rim finishers. So to have him just be able to get free throws score when this the clock is [00:06:00] stopped because we did have two pretty damn clutch games.
[00:06:04] Like him being able to score in so many different ways has really, really been impressive. So Dame’s my number one star of amongst stars.
[00:06:13] Dustin: Yeah. He, he has to be, and I’m really glad he turned it around these past two performances, because after the Sacramento game, I was, I, I was starting to think about what I was gonna say in this podcast and draw parallels to when I watched Brandon Roy come back from injury.
[00:06:29] Uh, in that, uh, 2009, 2010 season, he lacked, burst, uh, those plays that he was able to finish at the rim. He was not able to, to get that. He was getting his shot blocked. I have a vivid memory of him against Oklahoma City Thunder, and it was like Durant and Ibaka were just giving him all sorts of trouble at the rim.
[00:06:47] And you’re like, This isn’t the same. Brandon, Roy and I, I do agree with what people were saying. Like he, he didn’t have that, that shiftiness like to finish, like his shot wasn’t falling from the outside. That wasn’t my issue. I was like, Oh man, [00:07:00] he’s having a hard time. Shaking Davy on Mitchell. Like he, he can’t finish over over these, you know, not Stout King defenders, but you know, you don’t wanna rush to judgment.
[00:07:10] It was his first, it’s one game, game of basketball, uh, in almost a full calendar year. And clearly there was probably a little bit of rust, but you mentioned it these past two games, back to back 41 point performances. He did that on an average of 54% from the field on a high volume, 50 attempts, 44% from three, again on 25 attempts, 89% from the line on 19 attempts, six boards, two and a half assist per game.
[00:07:40] And we will forgive the five turnovers per game because of how incredible. Well, just the. I mean, yes, but you don’t want your damn, so damn much. You want your point guard to have a negative assist turnover ratio. So we, we, we do need to figure that out and we will discuss the last podcast.
[00:07:59] Sage: If [00:08:00] a special person who takes 20 shots a game was efficient, ever, I don’t think the assists are gonna be as low as they were.
[00:08:08] Dustin: So I I’m just, I’m, I’m just, we, we are honest on this podcast and he was fantastic. But yes, we as a team, they, they gotta tighten up those, those turnovers. But Dame did look incredible. I thought he kept Portland in that game against Phoenix when nobody really had it going. It was a little bit of a, a sluggish game and, and he was able to put up, I think 28 or 33 points in, in the first half of that contest and really, Kept the crowd in it.
[00:08:38] The crowd was, was fantastic. It was incredibly loud. Uh, especially at the end of that, that Phoenix game. It felt like a, a, a playoff type of atmosphere in Portland. And what I also liked to see is we, we’ve discussed this too, Sage, would Dame push the pace? The answer is yes. No way. No [00:09:00] fucking way. Yes. He, I saw the stat on the score bug today.
[00:09:05] Dame had 14 of Portland’s 16 fast break points against Phoenix. So he is finding the opportunity. No, I disagree
[00:09:11] Sage: with the, what those stats say then Sage, that
[00:09:14] Dustin: is factual.
[00:09:15] Sage: But the no, because people that are putting the stats in are not, are biased. Like remember with Chris Paul in New Orleans when he got Phantom Assist that didn’t.
[00:09:28] Oh, no he doesn’t. He
[00:09:29] Dustin: he did not. I don’t think they’re doing phantom fast breakpoint, sage. There’s no fast breakpoint category award winner for, for the nba. He, the team in general, I feel like is pushing the, the envelope more often.
[00:09:44] Sage: They’re giving, I will put they’re one their bottom 10 pace.
[00:09:49] Dustin: My eyes tell me different in that stat
[00:09:51] Sage: then if, if we’re going with statistics, we’re a bottom 10 pace according to every me metric that is based on sp uh, [00:10:00] pace. You know, there was times when you were begging Dian Lillard to run, begging him to run in that Phoenix game. He didn’t, He’s not pushing the pace.
[00:10:12] Dustin: We’re a slow team. Apparently he did.
[00:10:14] And I have to give,
[00:10:17] Sage: I, I truly don’t believe that that’s the. But, and, and, and we’re talking about three game sample size. Shit’s gonna change. Shit’s gonna change a lot. I don’t think that they were a fast-paced team
[00:10:31] Dustin: at all. So you think Portland is a bottom three team in pace? Bottom te bottom third for sure.
[00:10:36] They’re middle of the pack. 100 point 19. They’re very middle of the pack right now. We’ll
[00:10:45] Sage: see. I I truly think we’re gonna be a slow team.
[00:10:47] Dustin: That that’s fine. That that’s fine. If you think that’s what they’re going to do. I’m just saying Dame took the initiative and he was responsible for 14 of Portland 16 fast break points and Portland has been, But 16 fast break points
[00:10:59] Sage: isn’t that [00:11:00] much
[00:11:01] Dustin: Um, it actually, it is, uh, that’s one of the things I wanted to talk about because we were like, how, how was Portland winning sage? Right? How, how are they doing it? And I think they’re, they’re doing it three ways. They’re getting to the free throw line. They’re getting to the line 32 times a game that that’s second best in, in the entire league.
[00:11:21] They’re making 82% of those attempts. That’s, that’s fifth best. Not only are they getting there and they are, they’re making them, they’re making Sean’s proud right now, making their free throws. They’re keeping their opponents off of the stripe. They’re only allowing 20 free throw attempts per game, and they are getting out and running.
[00:11:39] They are averaging almost 19 fast break points through three games. I know small sample size, but that’s, that’s the formula for Portland. That’s the sixth best in the entire nba because they’re doing some things where they can improve upon. We, we’ll discuss that, but I wanted to dive deeper. I was like, you know, how, how are they winning these games?
[00:11:56] You know, an’s not shooting great Dame played savior for the [00:12:00] past two, but what, what are they, what are they doing? Cause they’re not shooting a ton of the threes. They’re not making a ton of threes. It, it seems like they’re, they’re living at the line. They’re not fouling and they’re, they’re getting out and, and running and I think credit.
[00:12:15] Players like Josh Hart who are just kind of getting the ball and yeah, he’s gonna make an Al Camino mistake, mistake here and there. Push. Do you think he has
[00:12:22] Sage: butter fingers? Cause I think he has buttering. He doesn’t catch the ball correctly a lot.
[00:12:26] Dustin: He, he, he’s one of those, like you watch in football, the receivers that kind of maybe look ahead and try to run, take a step before the ball gets there.
[00:12:32] So wasn’t there like a
[00:12:33] Sage: fast break that was pretty important where he just,
[00:12:38] Dustin: He, I, I think he gets a little excited. Like, I think Josh Hart is one of those players that just like, loves to play the game. He’s like amped up and I think that energy just kind of like exudes through him. So yeah, he, he does have the butter fingers and he is our new Amini on the break.
[00:12:55] Like, I appreciate that he is trying to get easy points, but I also know that I’m probably gonna [00:13:00] yell at him and say that was a bad take and that there’s
[00:13:02] Sage: been a, Oh, I think I’ll leave the team in charges for sure.
[00:13:06] Dustin: He’s, he’s a little wild, but, uh, he’s definitely out there. I mean, you’re seeing shade get on the break that, that lo.
[00:13:15] The justice one bakers was just filthy. And we’re gonna see more of those once the team realizes that he’s on the floor. And I know that sounds crazy to say, but I don’t think any of them have played with an athlete like Shade. And there was a lo that aunt threw in the first half of the Laker game where he, he threw it too late.
[00:13:34] He didn’t see him. And Is Shain still almost, you know, he would’ve made, he was clear in the, all you to do is make, make throw anywhere and, and he’ll go and get it. So once you start getting those players out, I think Gary Peyton, I second is going to, um, help in, in that, that area of the game as well. But, um, that’s kind of been the formula because they, they really haven’t had a lot of success [00:14:00] with the assists.
[00:14:01] Right now. They have rank, they’re, they’re dead last in, in assists per game, uh, less than 18 and. They’re ranked 27th in the league in turnovers at 17 a game. So again, that’s really why I wanted to like, dig into how they were winning, because usually when you’re not sharing the ball and you’re turning it over more times than you’re, you’re, you know, you’re getting your teammates involved.
[00:14:23] That’s just a recipe for disaster. So they’re kind of playing with fire, uh, a little bit there. And I wanted to get your thoughts, Sage on, do you think the, the, the lack of assist is worrisome? And do you think it can be, um, amendable? Like, can, can they fix this? Because you and I, both when, especially when we’re watching together, when Anthony Simons and I, I don’t mean that to pick on him, but there is a distinct, you can feel it when he’s running the offense.
[00:14:56] When Dame sits, he’s dribbling the [00:15:00] absolute hell out of the basketball and nobody is moving. It is just ant tr just taking. It just felt like it was like CJ again, early cj
[00:15:09] Sage: No, that this is much worse than any CJ
[00:15:12] Dustin: I’ve seen. True. I’m just saying it felt like that. Like what, what can Portland do is, is are we just kind of stuck like this?
[00:15:21] Are we gonna be a team that doesn’t get a lot of assist because of our other ball handler Isn’t the best playmaker? Or are there different sets you can run to make sure Anthony is more of an off the ball player? Uh, they just, it hasn’t been the best showing for Simon’s so far this season. Um, he has seven assists to nine turnovers.
[00:15:43] He’s only gone to the line eight total times. Uh, and and quick question for you, Sage. What percentage of the shots do you think ANT has taken on average? I was actually looking that up right now. I have it. I have it for you. What, what do you think he’s taken? 22% of Portland’s entire field, cold [00:16:00] temps this year.
[00:16:00] Mm-hmm. . At 34% from the field and 21% from three. So not only is he, uh, taking a high volume com, really inefficient shooting numbers for, uh, Portland’s starting to guard. And I think if you’re looking at it glass half full, they’re winning in spite of, of, of Simon’s really poor performances. And if, again, you’re looking at a glass half full, you have to believe that he’s going to, to turn it around, because I have seen some sets where they get him off ball and they’re kicking out and he’s catching and shooting.
[00:16:37] And that’s where I feel more comfortable with him. I really don’t want the ball in his hands. I, I, I think I’m with you, Sage. I don’t know if I see the Playmaking ability and if he’s not gonna get to the free throw line. Like I don’t wanna see him dribble precious seconds off that shot clock only to take a contested jump shot.
[00:16:54] Like you can get that any time. So, What do you think Portland can do to rectify [00:17:00] the, the lack of assists because they have some willing passwords on this team.
[00:17:05] Sage: I made Look at something. All right.
[00:17:11] I, I’m very curious of what happens to our offense when Dame is resting and aunt’s on the floor. So that’s what I looked it up, . All right, so that it’s been 21 minutes of Amph off Dame Amph on Dame off. 20 minutes per game that happens when that happens and has taken 15 free, uh, 15 attempts. The rest of the team.
[00:17:53] 20. So he’s, he’s win damns off the court. The offense turns into an iso fest. A not good [00:18:00] ISO fest. No, no, no, no, no. I mean, like, it, it’s one thing
[00:18:04] Dustin: if he’s, he’s
[00:18:05] Sage: cooking, but no, he, it, it, he’s been inefficient every game this year. I, I, I, I mean, if you wanna say that, that the, the King First King’s game, he was okay.
[00:18:16] Okay. But that the second and third games he was, he made like five shots each. So it’s been a really inefficient time when Anthony was the guy. And I don’t, I don’t see a way where we can honestly play minutes where gamed off the court and Amny isn’t the main ball handler. We just don’t have the third guy.
[00:18:37] We don’t have a third guy anywhere. So unless you wanna make Shaden Sharp or Justice Winslow, the actual point guard in those minutes without Damien Lillard, it just seems like. In every minute of Anthony being the guy, the only playmaker on the court, we’re gonna run bad. But to answer your assist question, I think that when we start shooting and [00:19:00] scoring on Dame attempts and Dame passes, I think that we will be a decent assist teams like him.
[00:19:07] Was is he averaging like forests a game littler? Yeah.
[00:19:19] Dustin: Uh, I have the first, I have the past two games. So he, he’s averaged two and a half assists during these past 41 point outbursts.
[00:19:31] Let me look at something
[00:19:32] Sage: up. Cause I, I, I remember,
[00:19:34] Dustin: and he had, he did have eight assists opening night. So he’s, he has 1313 assists total through three games. So about four assists per.
[00:19:44] Sage: I was watching the, uh, the Pistons game and I was like, and I was texting you saying that I know that he hasn’t proved himself, but Killian Hayes was, is a really fantastic passer.
[00:19:57] He’s getting 10 potential assisted game on [00:20:00] limited minutes. That’s really impressive. So in the three games that Damien’s played, he averages 12.5 potential assists a game. So even though right now it’s a very low assist total, he’s still getting the, the players involved. It’s about them hitting them, shot those shots.
[00:20:19] So I think that in time where Damian Lilt is the man and he is driving and he is doing his thing offensively, I think that yeah, we can get assists. He’ll generate the assist, but I really don’t think Anny Simons is going to get anybody involved outside of Anny Simons, unless it’s like just the easiest pick and use or messier.
[00:20:42] Rolls right in front of him. I don’t think that he has the peripheral vision to be a, a, a, a guard in the league, but I think that he sees directly in front of him. I don’t think he sees the peripheral like players on the sides of him. Cause I, you watch K [00:21:00] Cunningham, you watch I uh, Tyres Halliburton and those young guys see those guys on the side.
[00:21:05] You even saw Anthony Davis hit three point shooters when he was driving to the rim. So, you know, it’s possible with younger players to see those guys that are open. I just don’t think he see, uh, Anthony sees those guys on the, the corner. I think he sees the, the court in like grids where he sees directly in front of him, you know, the paint, the midi, the.
[00:21:30] I don’t think he sees the wings, the wings, the corners, or the corresponding spots on the court. So I, I truly don’t think that we will see a good offense unless Anthony is scorching hot and we haven’t seen that yet. So every, every time that he’s the man offensively, it’s been kind of a iso heavy lack of player movement, lack of ball movement type of sets.
[00:21:57] So, I mean, we haven’t [00:22:00] seen the explosion, so, you know, there’s going to be a game soon where, you know, we forget about the lack of passing, but right now it’s like his, he, he shoots a lot and misses a lot and doesn’t get anybody involved in the times that he’s the man. Like I’m, I’m actually curious about, uh, what his, So he, he.
[00:22:27] So right now Damian Willard has a 33% usage rate. Huge. Yeah, massive. But Anthony Simons has a 25 and I would love to see what happens when Damian’s off, what happens to that usage rate. So, Anthony Simons, when Dam is off the court, and this honestly feels low to me, but Anthony Simons is in charge of every 37% of the usage, which means every shot that goes up goes in, Misses, assists, and [00:23:00] turnover.
[00:23:00] Anthony is in is responsible for, So he’s, he is that offense when dame’s off the court? It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s replacing Dame with Anny. That’s the, that’s what we’ve been with the so far this year. Like Jeremy Grant has , Jeremy Grant and Josh Hart have only played seven possessions. With Anthony Simons and without Dame, I guess you can say lack of talent on the court when Anthony is running the show.
[00:23:33] Sure. But he’s taking all the usage, everything. So I, I, I, I If you trust Anthony to get his player, his teammates involved, then yeah, maybe, but from what the numbers have shown in a very small sample size, and I honestly think like if he’s making more than five shots in the last two games, wouldn’t those numbers of usage go up because he is taking more shots?[00:24:00]
[00:24:00] Like if he’s scorching, wouldn’t it go up like he’s taking 20 plus shots a game. If he was like 13 for 20, wouldn’t it, wouldn’t the attempts go up as well? So I, I honestly don’t see a way that he gets his teammates involved cuz he is shooting when he is not doing well. So he is gonna shoot when he does well.
[00:24:20] Dustin: pass, shoot. Portland’s entire season of success or failure lies in the, in the, in primarily on, on aunt’s shoulders and how he is performing and how he is used, um, and how the team operates when, when dam’s off, off of the floor.
[00:24:41] Sage: I think Dame is the, the main catalyst for our success. So I guess that I would pass it or whatever the, the, the, I think Dame’s number one, I think a’s number two.
[00:24:53] Dustin: Okay. I, I’m shooting it because I think Dame could still have, So Dame went 41 each, Each Dame [00:25:00]
[00:25:00] Sage: can be efficient regardless and can’t, but I Dame is more important.
[00:25:07] Dustin: I think Dame is the best player on the team. But in this instance, it’s, it’s almost like when Nurk was cooking, uh, in 17, 18 and, and maybe during Bosnian Beast fevers, like he was almost more important.
[00:25:19] The reason I, I’m not saying and is the better player, but the reason I think he is more important to the team’s success is because Dame could, we, we’ve seen it. Dame scored 55 against the Nuggets, and we still lost that game. Dame can still cook. We still could, we could have lost to Phoenix and we could have lost to the Lakers.
[00:25:36] We could be talking about an oh and three podcast, right, Right about now. Like the ball bounced our way. We came up with the place in, in the clutch. But my argument for Ant being the most important is they are going to play him regardless. Like there was a stretch during that Laker game where he had five foul, he was shooting like hell and he was just dribbling into traffic.
[00:25:57] He should have been benched for the entire [00:26:00] second. A second half of that fourth quarter, Portland should have went big and they didn’t. And I, I think it’s going to be very difficult for the team to kind of sit at when he needs to be set. And that could be due to contract, that could be due to status on the team, who knows, whatever.
[00:26:18] But I, I do know what feels like there are different rules for different players because we saw use of ni get benched for almost the entire fourth quarter against the Kings. But Ant is still kind of allowed to play through some really poor performances. He does. And that, that’s why I a little concerned because he’s, he’s gonna shoot, he’s not really gonna defend and we really need him to.
[00:26:46] Play just it. He needs to play better. He needs to play. He’s, he’s thinking too much out there. He needs the wonder dribble go, needs to get his team involved because the game, especially in Phoenix, really bogged down. Dame went out, uh, after that first [00:27:00] shift and then Phoenix was like, We’re just gonna trap an and he’s not gonna know what to do.
[00:27:03] And he didn’t like, he, he didn’t really see the type of traps and blitzes during his run last year because nobody took Portland seriously last year. And they just let Ant go and he beat a couple of teams. Yeah, absolutely. But now they’ve scouted you. They know what you can do and Mon Williams took him out of the game and that’s when Phoenix made their run.
[00:27:21] And it wasn’t until, you know, Dame went on, you know, God mode that Portland was able to kind of rise above all of that. But I think Anthony Simons in how he is used, like we need to get other people involved. He can’t be taking 22% of the team shots. He’s not that good. So is the coaching staff going to.
[00:27:41] Hold Hi. Is, is he gonna, are they gonna hold every player accountable and say, Hey, you’re not getting done. We need to put somebody else in there. I don’t know, I hope, I don’t think they have him either, but that, I think that is going to determine Portland’s success because I really like this team. When you have Dame next to some size, whether [00:28:00] it’s Dame and then you’ve got Justice and Josh and Shade and, and Na Seer and those three w, those four Wings, Jeremy has been playing outstanding basketball and then I think we’ve got two outta three game good games from Nichi.
[00:28:12] So I, I really like this team. When they play balanced, when they play with some size, it’s, it’s really kind of, it, it can be tough to watch when Dame’s off the court or when they go Dame Amp because they’re still kind of trying to get, get accustomed to playing with one of them because they really haven’t played alongside,
[00:28:34] Sage: I mean, Game One Against the Kings.
[00:28:36] You saw Jeremy Grant post up. Exactly the area that Dame was trying to penetrate to. Exactly. So I, you can say that Jeremy hasn’t played with, Jeremy and Josh haven’t played with the Healthy Damian and Lil Lib cuz they haven’t and all that stuff. But you expect that j uh, that Anthony’s going to
[00:28:58] Dustin: Yeah, Anthony has
[00:28:59] Sage: hasn’t had a good [00:29:00] game yet.
[00:29:00] And I know three games out of 82,
[00:29:03] Dustin: but he wasn’t good in the preseason. Neither though. So I, we know,
[00:29:06] Sage: I mean, I didn’t watch enough games, but like he, I if, if what we saw in the last three games is his role Yeah. Is his role. He has to, he has to step it up because he has a big role on this team. I mean, I think that his usage rate higher now than it was with, like, he has a bigger role on the team than CJ McCollum.
[00:29:36] Dustin: And fair or not. Sage, you say this all the time. Salary dictates how you are viewed on this roster. We don’t mind drew Ubanks and salary, but when Amini Simons is making $25 million a year, that’s taking up a large chunk of your cap space that could be used elsewhere. So you really need him to get it together.
[00:29:58] I do give him [00:30:00] credit. He did hit that big shot against Phoenix without that shot, it goes into double overtime and who knows what happens there. So, um,
[00:30:09] Sage: I’m looking at some of this. The, the, a good way of seeing how involved on your, in the offense you are is Jesus Christ man, uh, is looking at your fantasy points per minute.
[00:30:25] It dictates a lot of how you’re, how involved you are. Damien Lard is very involved in the offense. He gets assists, he gets some rebounds. I see. I saw him get more rebounds this, these three games than I have in a long time.
[00:30:42] Dustin: The average six rebounds past two games.
[00:30:43] Sage: Yeah. Uh, he’s gotten potential assists that haven’t turned into real assists, so he actually has a great stats per minute.
[00:30:52] Anny Simons has a humongous usage rate, right? A third of the, almost 40% of [00:31:00] a usage. When Dame’s out, he only produces via the shot. Right now, he’s not getting those rebounds, he’s not getting those assists. He’s not getting those deals, not getting those. If he didn’t shoot that possession, he’s just playing ca.
[00:31:13] He’s just doing cardio like he is not involved in the team. In terms of any other statistic outside of shooting and right now, I don’t feel like he’s going to this year. Contribute in any other, like what is the secondary stat that Anthony Simons does right now? Cause right now I just see him taking shots and I mean, he’s going to have explosive games and his pull up game is gonna be great.
[00:31:38] And those, the, the points that he makes are gonna make up for the lack of rebounding, the lack of the assist and the lack of every other statistic category. But right now you don’t see anything. And it looks like he’s not a part of the team outside of scoring. So I, I mean, what’s the secondary skill set that he’s gonna put for the Blazers?[00:32:00]
[00:32:01] He has to figure it
[00:32:02] Dustin: out. He, he’s, he’s too good of an athlete, not to rebound better.
[00:32:06] Sage: Could you see, like, I could see him hounding the shit out of ball handlers. I could see him getting like five rebounds a game. He
[00:32:12] Dustin: has the athleticism and the youth to be a, a good defender there. There’s no reason for him, him, I
[00:32:19] Sage: mean, the, how much so is Josh har than him?
[00:32:22] An inch maybe Josh
[00:32:25] Dustin: Hart, Josh dogs, such a
[00:32:28] Sage: damn, I mean, I’m sure it’s mentality and all that stuff, but like
[00:32:32] Dustin: it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a hundred percent mentality. You have to
[00:32:35] Sage: be defender. I get, Wow. Josh Hart has played more time than Aphy Simons by two minutes did not notice, but like , um, I’m just li damn, so Housers, that’s, that’s really crazy.
[00:32:53] So Josh Hart’s the third best rebounder on the team. That’s crazy. But like Josh [00:33:00] Hart. His, all of his numbers is like 300% better than Anthony at rebounding. You know, if the flip was switched, Anthony would be a better rebounder just by the athleticism. So it’s
[00:33:12] Dustin: same, it’s the same thing we talked about with CJ too, when CJ rebounded, well, he was such a better asset for the team playoffs.
[00:33:18] CJ was a different performer than regular season, but at least
[00:33:21] Sage: CJ had the assist potential. Yes. But we’re just specific. I know. No, no, I know. But like if we’re talking about he’s talking
[00:33:28] Dustin: rebounding. Yeah, sure. We’re on the same page with the Playmaking. CJ was leaps and bounds a better playmaker than, than Amny, but rebounding that the CJ can’t
[00:33:37] Sage: jump like he should own CJ in
[00:33:39] Dustin: rebounding.
[00:33:39] CJ cannot jump out of the gym like Amny Cannon. Mm-hmm. Okay. Let, let, let’s move on a bit. I think we’re, we’re being hard on ant. Hopefully he, he redeems himself. Uh, next I
[00:33:51] Sage: got a call. What do you think of, what do you think use of your’s role is gonna be? Because we, we can say that. [00:34:00] In that Phoenix game. He had a, he had a lot of minutes, but there was also that overtime that boosted everybody’s minutes significantly.
[00:34:08] So do you think that at best in a competitive game he’s gonna give you 30 minutes of, uh, playing time or do you see a way where he actually gets more than 30 minutes a game? Cause I think 30 minutes is his cap. Yeah, I think after it’s probably our third best player. Right. So
[00:34:29] Dustin: after considering and, and you know, letting it simmer and marinate, that’s probably Hi.
[00:34:37] Hi. His max, the team signed him to a long term deal. They know his injury history. They don’t want to wear him down on a game by game basis. It is 82 game season. So that’s probably why he, his minutes are hovering, um, around, he was
[00:34:53] Sage: awful at King’s game. So I guess why you went justice. Yeah. But I think that when you go against
[00:34:59] Dustin: Deandre, he was [00:35:00] fantastic though Again, he had almost, he almost had a 2020 game against Phoenix.
[00:35:03] Sage: then he, Yeah. So, so that’s, that’s what confuses me about like if it’s a positive defensive matchup, and I think, I’m sure Aiden’s more athletic and moves better, but there size isn’t that different than, than, than use of, So it seems like it’s a positive defensive matchup and it’s a positive traditional team.
[00:35:26] Monte Williams isn’t gonna play without a traditional center. So Houston toner for the 48 or the 52 minutes, or 53 minutes of the game had a positive matchup, but there was long runs of Eubanks at center and then Jeremy Granite Center when it doesn’t dictate that. So man, like it, it’s like we’re treating him like he’s a Vivica Zoba on the Clippers where.
[00:35:53] He has to use, has to produce at such a high level or cuz his minutes per [00:36:00] game isn’t gonna make up for it. So it puts so much pressure on him to not only score and rebound but be efficient in it cuz he is not gonna have the, the six extra minutes in the game like Josh Hard or Jeremy Grant. And I get it, you protect your asset in the long term contract that you signed.
[00:36:18] But honestly I feel like Chauncey Phillips does not like use of nich and does not play ’em. It’s kind of like, remember when Hassan Whiteside was taken outta games really early in plus matchups when Zach Holmes was there, he was playing those minutes and uh, Hassan was on the bench. I feel like it’s kind of the same thing with, with uh, Passan as it is with use of, but we didn’t have Zach Collins back up use of, now we.
[00:36:47] Ebanks who tries really hard, but when you’re going against a legitimate starting center, he’s going to look get exposed because he is a backup center. So it, it just seems like, damn, [00:37:00] we’re not gonna get the full use of ni experience unless something dramatic happens. And I, I just don’t think that he’s gonna get, like, I think he’s gonna be 26 minutes a game type of guy.
[00:37:10] And that’s not good for anybody. Cuz the Western Conference has so many damn good centers and we’re gonna be at a humongous deficit every time. We don’t have him play 30. Yeah.
[00:37:23] Dustin: I, I think it’s on, on him to make the most out of his opportunities. It’s on the, the players to find him more often. I think I saw, I saw better opportunities for him to make an impact these past two games.
[00:37:36] You know, he got the ball against, you know, a couple of acre backup bigs, I think twice in a row. He just backed them down, backed them down, and just went, went to work or drew a foul on Anthony Davis, like they couldn’t hang with him. And then they saw that match up. It’s on the coaching staff are also holding the guards accountable, right?
[00:37:50] You, you don’t, sometimes you don’t need the guards to be taking 50% of the team shots. Like, let’s run some place for nich, even if it’s just for him to initiate some offense. So, [00:38:00] you know, obviously we, we both are in agreement. The offense lacks a bit of creativity. Uh, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
[00:38:07] I, I think we just have to hope that, that we get good nichi over poor ni uh, regardless of how long, um, he is out there. One thing, speaking of the coaching staff, that, that is pretty worrisome to me, uh, three games in, is the reliance on the starters not named use of the. Per game are through the roof. So here are the minutes per game right now.
[00:38:34] And I’ll also, and these are all career highs for these players. Dame coming off of, uh, major abdominal surgery is at 38. He averaged his previous high was 37.8 in the covid season. Amny is at 38 right now. His previous career high was last year just under 30. Josh Hart is averaging 38.3 minutes. His career high was just 33 and a half, uh, [00:39:00] uh, uh, two years ago.
[00:39:02] And Jeremy Grant is at almost 37 minutes per game. Career high was 34 in 2021. So in the case of Amny and, and Josh Hart. Significantly increasing the, the amount of minutes they’re going. Like if anybody knows, if you train for a race, you train for a marathon, you don’t just run eight to 10 miles right off the gate, like you start doing two.
[00:39:27] And then once you feel comfortable with that, you do three. Like you have to pace these players. Otherwise they’re, they’re gonna just, that’s when you see major injuries occur. And in the case of Damian Lillard, he just came off of a major injury. Why in the absolute hell are you playing him 38 minutes a night like these?
[00:39:45] It’s fantastic. The Blazer’s with three now I get it. You can’t Tom Tito this team. The depth are, the depth is not there. You have to manufacture some depth. And that’s what I mean by like staggering dam and [00:40:00] an letting usef initiate some offense. Can Jeremy Grant some more opportunities? You don’t need to put them all out there at the same time and then just do hockey line shifts.
[00:40:08] So I, I think the coaching staff. Really, and I think we’re gonna get a taste of this tomorrow night against the Nuggets, because it’s the first, back to back of the season. You have to manage the minutes. You can’t burn the guys out. It is a marathon. The season doesn’t end until April. We’re not even in frigging Halloween yet.
[00:40:26] So let’s, let’s chill on the over, over usage of, of our starters. Because Sage, we, we know this, the, the team isn’t supremely deep. So if one of those guys is out for seven to 10 days, like it’s gonna, they’re gonna be like salmon swimming upstream. Trying, trying to, trying to get these, these Ws it’s gonna be a difficult, uh, task
[00:40:48] Sage: for them.
[00:40:49] I’m looking at Popcorn Machine, which is a, it, it, it gives like a game chart. And I’m looking at the Phoenix game cuz they haven’t updated the games for [00:41:00] today. But Ant played from 12 minutes in the third to six, took a, a four minute break. and then played the rest of the game. So 42 minutes in that game. I know, I know he’s younger than Damian, but like, it, it, it really looks bad when basically you’re starting five played from six minutes into the fourth quarter till the game’s over at ot.
[00:41:31] That’s a
[00:41:31] Dustin: lot of that Sage am he played really just a month of rotational basketball. Like he has always been a third guard. You know, maybe he gets thrown out there against the Kings in 2019, but that was it. He really just played a month. Once the team, uh, moved, you know, Norman Powell and, and they moved, uh, CJ and Dame was hurt.
[00:41:51] He really only ran the show at an starting, uh, point guard. Usage for about a month, and now you’re playing him [00:42:00] 42 minutes, like you said, not getting a breather like gonna burn these guys out. Like we, we really, it,
[00:42:05] Sage: it’s gonna be that we’re gonna see Dame do a Fred Van fleet where he plays every game for 40 min, like, uh, competitive.
[00:42:13] Every competitive game. He’s gonna play 40 plus minutes, and then he’s gonna get a hamstring injury that’s gonna limit him in March when games really matter. Like tho those guys that like Nick Nurse and, and, and Tom Tido, they, they don’t help players longevity. And Chauncey Phillips is really doing, I, and I remember us complaining about, uh, Terry Stocks doing this, but Chauncey Phillips is taking it to a brand new level where we didn’t even think this was imaginable.
[00:42:46] Um, yeah, like I, I, I could definitely see at least one of our guys. One of our core guys developing an injury and not being able to play it when games actually matter. This, [00:43:00] I would much rather go one and two right now so we can see Dame or aunt or Josh or uh, Jeremy or use of play in April or shit when the games actually matter in playoff time.
[00:43:12] So I I, I agree that we are being very, very, very irresponsible with these guys minutes and I think it will be interesting to see what happens with our team on this back to back. Like, is, are we playing Damien 40 plus minutes? Are we playing an 40 plus minutes? Like I, I use of, has to play and match Nicole Yoic every minute that he’s on the h Like I could you imagine what Joker does to Ebanks?
[00:43:41] I don’t do com would be good. I don’t wanna know. Yeah, it’s gonna, it, it’s, it’s gonna be nasty. I am very happy we won these games. Very happy, but. The amount of minutes that our teams, our, our star players play. Plus [00:44:00] I really think that at least the sons and probably the Lakers made some pretty drastic mistakes that we took advantage of to win.
[00:44:09] Dustin: Russell Russell Westbrook ,
[00:44:13] Sage: Deandre Aon was turn over machine in the game against us, man. Like,
[00:44:18] Dustin: Wait, can we give Dame, can we give Dame some, some props for, for getting into younger? Oh, sure, sure, sure, sure. That, that was just, just, you know, Chefs Kiss, just saying, these are some big free throws, big dog. Like, just, just letting you know, Games on the line here goes up.
[00:44:32] Brick City, I mean, just, just brilliant move by the veteran. But you’re absolutely right. Sage. It, it’s, I, I’m happy the Blazers are three and, Oh, I, I don’t think,
[00:44:42] Sage: but I think we could easily been Oh, and.
[00:44:46] Dustin: I mean, I think if Mon Williams would’ve continued to run the pick and roll with Paul and Aen, there’s no way Portland has a chance to come back.
[00:44:53] But, or, or
[00:44:54] Sage: Booker, just Anthony Simons was on Booker. It was an [00:45:00] easy, but, but that’s
[00:45:02] Dustin: a straight line that can, what happened when that can happen when the vibes are bad and the vibes are incredibly bad in Phoenix right now. A question for you, Sage. Um, and this will lead into our our fan question. What have your thoughts been on Portland’s newest edition, uh, starting Power Forward?
[00:45:22] Uh, Jeremy Grant, we saw him struggle, um, to really get opportunities. He did, um, have the game winning basket today in Los Angeles. Got to the free throw line a hell of a lot in, in Sacramento. Um, but we noticed this in the Phoenix game. He was just out there doing cardio. Mm-hmm. , like nobody passed him the ball.
[00:45:40] He did not have a field goal attempt in the first half of that game against. A team that was playing Damien Lee and Cam Johnson, like the, the game.
[00:45:49] Sage: Did Cam Johnson get hurt in the fourth quarter?
[00:45:52] Dustin: He must have. They weren’t really small and Portland. Cause he was is your, this is your acquisition Sage. You gave up a first round pick [00:46:00] for, for Jeremy and you’re not running options for him.
[00:46:03] So how Cam
[00:46:04] Sage: Johnson got hurt at the 10 26 mark and then it was Damien Leap. Like that’s a, that we should have attacked that more. But I’m, I I think that you should just say the fan question because I’m gonna go into like why I think Jeremy Grant and Yeah.
[00:46:20] Dustin: So, uh, Rhythm wants to know does Jeremy get enough shots?
[00:46:24] Does he like this new role? I think he should be the second option on this team.
[00:46:29] Sage: I think that the uh, first and second option in a fully healthy Blazers team is already locked and loaded. Damien and Ant, and then three through.
[00:46:41] Dustin: I would say an shouldn’t be the second option. No, no, no. He will be,
[00:46:44] Sage: he will be, Yes.
[00:46:45] Looking for using every bit of information that we have in these three games to make a, uh, educated guess. I think that those two are locked in, so it means that Jeremy use of Josh Hart [00:47:00] naia and, uh, I, I, let’s shade it in for fun, but I think that it’s gonna be completely randomized of where the, the randomness is going to be, who the third option is.
[00:47:11] And in, in any game, so like with with the King’s, Jeremy Grant actually was involved in it, but then in game th game two against Phoenix USEF was involved. I think that with everybody else, that Randomness does, does, does Anthony see them to get the ball? Does the matchup dictate them getting the ball? I think that context is, and, and randomness is gonna be a huge part of why, of who the third option is in the given game.
[00:47:38] So, no, I don’t think Jeremy Grant gets the. Enough, and I don’t think that’s gonna be the case where he gets it every game, but there’s gonna be games where he is the third guy. It’s kind of like New Orleans where Damon a are are gonna [00:48:00] cannibalize each other’s production. Josh Hart Naden can cannibalize each other and let’s throw Jeremy Grant in there.
[00:48:07] They’re gonna cannibalize it. Jeremy Grant’s gonna cannibalize use of for rebound and shit. Josh Hart’s gonna do it too. So you, you’re never gonna know who’s going to be scoring sh uh, passing or rebounding in these games because of every player sort of similar to each other. And then they cannibalize each and everything that they do.
[00:48:28] Like, remember back when NE was on the show and talked about it, how Damon’s CJ are so similar so they canalize each other’s production. I think that that’s how we’ve done it.
[00:48:38] Dustin: But with, there’s enough space to grow.
[00:48:40] Sage: Yeah. I think, I think that this year we, we have more talent, but it’s very similar talent and they’ll cannibalize each other’s statistics.
[00:48:48] So I don’t think that Jeremy Grant will ever have the role that he even had with Denver, where he was just a hungry guy that took his opportunities. I don’t even think he gets those opportunities [00:49:00] in like a fourth of the games because Josh Hart’s gonna get the ball or use of MUR is dominating. So I, I think that all of his statistics are really up in the air what he’s gonna do.
[00:49:11] He could run cardio this game, or it could be completely and totally involved in the offense. So it puts everybody in a weird position is, is this gonna be my game? There’s no defined roles because it’s like, we’re all very similar guys outside of like, you know, you know who has butter fingers and who, who, who attacks the basket.
[00:49:30] So it’s, it’s kind of, I I, this is gonna be the least trackable team in the NBA of who the third guy’s gonna be in the given night. Yeah, I
[00:49:40] Dustin: think the not clearly defined roles will hinder more than help Portland this season. Uh, Jeremy Grant, I think should be getting more looks. I, I, you spend the valuable first drum pick on him for a reason.
[00:49:54] Don’t just let him stand out there. And I think it’s gonna be on the coaching staff for generating some looks [00:50:00] for him. He’s already shown that he can catch and shoot. I, I, he’s mastered that high catch and release from three, which looks wonderful. It’s a un unblockable shot. He can cut, he can lead a fast break.
[00:50:12] He can finish around the rim, just as we saw today, against
[00:50:15] Sage: smaller players up too.
[00:50:17] Dustin: So, I, I think right now, if the Blazers were oh three, Jeremy’s probably, probably a little bit peeved with his role winning solves and cures a lot. And I, I’m. Everybody is fine with the amount of shots that Damien and Little takes because not only does he make them, he’s one of the 75 greatest players of all time.
[00:50:35] I think there, if, if Ant continues to shoot at the clip that he is and he’s not efficient, that’s when I, I think you could see some players maybe get, um, an maybe not animated, but, but frustrated and I think that could linger into the locker room. So I think there is a, a huge weight on the shoulders of the coaching staff.
[00:50:55] There are a lot of mouths to feed and they need to do them. Um, they need, they need to [00:51:00] feed those mouths. You can’t just have two people, you know, eating all that cake. You, you gotta share it around. You gotta find, you know, other ways to, to get players involved because if you involve a player in offense, they’re gonna take that energy and put it on the defensive under the floor.
[00:51:14] You know, just think when you play basketball, you, somebody passed you the ball, you make a shot, you’re pumped, you want to go down and stop the other guy from doing that to you. But if you just kind of stand in a corner or you’re not involved at all, maybe you just screen. And you try and re like you just, you, your energy is kind of, you’re heart.
[00:51:31] You wanna feel like you’re part of the success, like you’re part of the team. And um, I don’t think that’s quite happening. But again, we’re just three games in. I I think they will get accustomed to him, um, in these
[00:51:46] Sage: three games. I’m not, I’m not separating anything out. Who do you think, who are the three, four, and five guys in usage?
[00:51:53] And it is who you think it is, but you don’t, the order is gonna be different. Who do you think, I dunno, who do you think the third [00:52:00] highest usage rate is? Josh hurt. It’s use, it’s use of, so it’s use of at 23% usage rate. So he, when he is in, he is handling that ball and then it’s Jeremy Grant at 16 and then the person that’s taking the biggest cut and it’s somebody that we worried about taking the biggest cut to Josh Hart, he only plays with Damian Lillard.
[00:52:26] We, we wanted him to be that guy off the bench that dominates the ball and makes decisions. But in these three games, he’s only played five minutes without Damian Willard on the court. So it seems like in Chante, Phillips’s mind, that’s how it’s gonna be using the resources that we have now. Like if Josh Hart’s gonna play 90% of his minutes with Dame, he’s not gonna get a chance to shine as much.
[00:52:54] With Dame and Josh being partnered together, it seems like he’s, [00:53:00] he’s gonna always be on the sidelines. He’s never gonna have his time to shine. And I get it. I, I, I, I’ve been looking at the data. I don’t think that there’s gonna be many minutes where Ant or Dame are both off the court. So Josh Hart’s gonna take that l unless this is the Josh Hart game.
[00:53:19] they don’t respect Josh and he gets the ball. The, the opponent doesn’t respect Josh and gets the ball. So it’s, it, it’s gonna be a very interesting how we handle everybody getting that, that, that precious, precious usage. So, I, I’m very curious of what happens and three games in you can’t really project that much.
[00:53:41] And Gary Peyton’s not here. So, you know, things could change, but if what we see is what’s gonna happen, I’m not sure that Josh is gonna have a big role on the team in terms of the ball . So, ING’s gonna be his biggest usage, [00:54:00] like the, he’s not gonna touch the ball unless he steals it or rebounds it. I, I, I think in, in most games,
[00:54:06] Dustin: Before we get into the predictions, quickly, give me your first impressions on shade and sharp.
[00:54:11] Sage: think that dribbling is gonna be the issue for him to, uh, stop him from greatness is dribbling, um, and play making as a whole. I think that he can pass. I, I think that he knows how to make the good pass, but I think that in the nba, the, uh, the bar is so high on wing players abilities to play, make for others.
[00:54:33] So that’s gonna be his biggest issue. But I love the mentality of always attacking the basket. I think that that is a very rare attitude and, you know, the athleticism and the tools just make him so alerting. And the fact that he’s getting minutes on a team. Like I, I was worried that Chauncey Bilis was gonna do what Nate Macon does and bench his rookie, but he’s getting actual rotation minutes.
[00:54:54] Like, uh, he, he’s played more minutes [00:55:00] as of right this second than this year. Little.
[00:55:03] Dustin: I thought Shaden looked fantastic against the kings. Um, I think his successful be predicated on his teammates actually passing him the ball. There are so many times where he is open for a corner three and it’s, you know, ant tunnel vision or whatever, and they’re just not giving him the ball.
[00:55:18] He’s electric in the open court. We saw that today against the Lakers. I think he’s shown some really good chops defensively, especially in isolation situations. I mean, going one on one against Devon Booker and he’s just, he’s doing a really good job of not getting into foul trouble. He doesn’t play with his hands.
[00:55:34] He moves his feet. And the, the intelligence to know LeBron was turning back into him. He had no idea he was there. Pick pocketed. Uh, one of the greatest players of all time that finished in transition, uh, I think is the more minutes he gets. Hopefully the teammates recognize that he’s on the floor and he can start to take some of that, that usage away from other players not named Dame.
[00:55:57] I think he’s really gonna progress [00:56:00] nicely throughout
[00:56:01] Sage: you. Who? Okay. Who has higher usage rate? Sha Sharp or Josh Har? I don’t
[00:56:07] Dustin: know. I,
[00:56:07] Sage: I don’t, I dunno. Age. Yes, it’s close. Josh Hart, Nah, Sha Sharp. And he’s, honestly, he could have a higher usage rate than Jeremy Grant. It’s very close. So I, That must honestly, the
[00:56:23] Dustin: Sacramento game, because he didn’t, they, I, he did not touch the ball against Phoenix.
[00:56:28] I think he was Oh, for two and he didn’t play hardly at all in the second half. So that, that, that usage must be, that must small sample size, but I think the Sao game is carrying a lot of that usage.
[00:56:39] Sage: Let’s look.
[00:56:44] Yeah. It’s very much, Well, no, I took out the Sacramento game and that Sacramento game saved a lot of players usage to trait. Except Sha, except Anthony and Dame. So [00:57:00] that, that, that Sacramento game is really important for Josh Hart and use, and, uh, and shade sharp for, for sure. So, all right, let’s talk,
[00:57:10] Dustin: let’s say just two K corner real quick and let’s get into these predictions.
[00:57:14] Sage: Oh, I built the small for who, uh, is, is a defensive guy and playing with randoms most of the time it’s like if I see the ball, if, if I get the ball, it’s cuz I play defense. They’re not passing me the ball. And that’s kind of the, the, the scenario that our wing players are dealing with is, I’m not getting the ball unless I play some defense and make it happen for myself.
[00:57:41] And that’s a very weird place to be when you are in the nba and in theory you have two high level playmakers that are getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars. So in my small, you know, like. You know, decent two K player mind. [00:58:00] It’s like, damn, I kind of get what Jeremy and Josh and Sha are all going through.
[00:58:04] It’s like, man, I gotta fuck it. I gotta manufacture this shit for me. I can’t rely on my point guard to get me the ball consistently. I mean, that’s the same when playing randoms in two K. It’s like, all right, I gotta manufacture this shit for myself. So I kind of get where these guys are coming from and obviously the usage rate varies from game to game, so they’re kind of playing like rec players in two K.
[00:58:33] Dustin: That’s a, that’s a really good, um,
[00:58:37] Sage: I was thinking about that when I was peeing genius. Thoughts come out when I really
[00:58:41] Dustin: good, uh, comparison. I don’t know if analogy or I don’t, I don’t know. I’m not that. It’s 10 20, it’s late. Really good, uh, comparison. Right there, Sage, let’s get into these predictions. It is a home stand for the Trailblazers this week.
[00:58:57] They have the Nuggets [00:59:00] on Monday, Heat on Wednesday, and the Houston Rockets on Friday. Um, the prediction standings as it stands, uh, early on Dustin two and one, Sage one and two, um, I picked up that game in against the sons. We both incorrectly picked the, the Lakers to win against, uh, the, the Blazers. But, uh, let’s kick it off.
[00:59:23] Portland is playing the Denver Nuggets. Uh, a team that I know was surprised. Um, And they lost to the Utah Jazz. But then they came back and beat Golden State in Golden State by another triple double from Nicole Yoki. They too are still working back in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. They did trade longtime nugget, uh, Will Barton and Monte Morris.
[00:59:47] They now have contagious called well Pope, um, and Ish Smith. Ish Smith. It’s, I think this is going to be Portland’s toughest test. [01:00:00] It’s, it’s a team that since, since that matchup and the Western conference semi-finals been 2019, the teams have kind of went in different directions. Um, I, I think this whole game pre predicates on how well use of nor can neutralize.
[01:00:16] Nicole Yoic because it seems like ever since use of Niki wished the, the Denver Nuggets a happy summer back in 2017 when both teams were fighting for that eighth playoff spot. Nicole Yoic and use of Nichi have kind of went into two separate directions. Uh, Sage, how can Portland win this game? Is there any way to neutralize Yogi?
[01:00:36] How would you approach this potent Denver offense? Well, first
[01:00:41] Sage: of all, I want to check, did Denver play today? They didn’t. Cool. Cause they’ve been sit, they’ve been, uh, the home opener was a few days ago and instead of playing in a competitive game, we’re talking to Jamal Murray here on Thursday, uh, on Friday.
[01:00:58] They chose to rest him [01:01:00] so he could play that home opener. So they’re being very choosy with Jamal Murray and his schedule and seeing that they actually get a full day of rest. I imagine that Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Will play this game against the Portland Trailblazer, which means that it’s a more.
[01:01:16] I mean, going from Jamal Murray to, uh, Bones Highland is a huge, who’s upgrade. And then Michael Porter Jr. Actually playing. And instead of KCP is a huge, So I mean, this is gonna be what, obviously a worse version, but this is gonna be what their, their team looks like when they’re fully, you know, all systems go.
[01:01:39] So maybe it’s lucky that we’re playing and when Jamal Murray’s, you know, four games in from recovering from that dead, uh, from that brutal injury, and Michael Porter Jr’s, you know, also in that recovery. So that might be the way, but I, I, I think that if use of cannot be as emotional as, you know, he can be and [01:02:00] really just focus up and defend, use, uh, uh, yore, I think there’s a way that he can definitely get into his head.
[01:02:07] Like he’s the only person on the team with the body to defend. Uh, Nii. It, it’s really just him. I, I, I mean the level of center in this league is so high and, and unfortunately Drew Eubanks doesn’t reach that level of starting center. That the only way that we get this win is use of, does his best to make life difficult on, on Joker.
[01:02:35] But I think that this is a good time for us to play him with those guys fully re uh, in the, the recovery. I mean, you’re not gonna play Jamal Murray 34 minutes in a game against Portland in October. You’re not gonna play Michael Porter Jr. That time. So maybe those, those role players are much worse in Portland because they’re so, they’re, they’re just better in their home court.
[01:02:57] So maybe joke it [01:03:00] goes off, but those other guys just can’t do it because they’re either not good enough or in recovery. So there I, there is a way that it happens and I. It’s just, you can’t let everybody go off. You have to choose how you play and don’t foul and give joker extra, extra attempts at the basket.
[01:03:19] Dustin: Yeah. Use of nor sting outta foul trouble, I think is, is is the major key to the game. Uh, I do want to give, uh, myself a little bit of, uh, credit cuz I was so bad in the predictions last year and the year before. I, it was not a good showing for, for myself. But I went back and I listened to it because I was like, Man, Kevin Hurter is having a really good game for the Kings.
[01:03:44] Oh shit. Justice Winslow kind of changes game around by coming in at the five. And I was like, I think I remember talking about this too. And sure enough, you’re like, Who’s the rando that’s gonna go off of the Kings? I was like, Yeah, Kevin Hurt is probably gonna have a good night.
[01:03:56] Sage: And you didn’t get like six
[01:03:57] Dustin: threes.
[01:03:58] Yeah. And then you asked me, who’s the [01:04:00] rando for the Blazers that’s gonna have a big night? I was like, I was like, I think it’s gonna be justice. I did say Nurk was gonna have a big night for us and that that didn’t happen, but that was
[01:04:10] Sage: a very, Yeah, that was not the best. So was Rando on the Nuggets and Blazers who do well tomorrow?
[01:04:15] Dustin: Oh man. For the Denver Nuggets, I think you always, um, have to be, uh, Cognizant is, which green plays for the Denver Nuggets. Old man. Jeff, you have to watch out. I was thinking it was Jeff Green. Uh, Jeff Green, you, he always plays Portland. Well, I don’t know why he can’t find a home long term. He’s a fantastic bench player.
[01:04:39] Would love to have him in Portland. But going up against Portland’s second unit, he has, uh, some size and he has mobility and he can shoot the three, he can get on the get out and run. Um, very intelligent basketball players you have to watch out for, for, for Jeff Green, I, I think this could be a [01:05:00] Justice Winslow.
[01:05:01] Game again, if they have to go, if Norka does get into file trouble. Winslow is a player who I’ve been incredibly impressed with this year. Um, is the five or the floor wherever. I’ve just, he attacks every rebound. He’s always diving on the floor. He, he plays like Gary Peyton ii honestly, he plays larger than his height.
[01:05:24] He uses his leverage. Uh, he gets really low. He has a really low center of gravity, and there’s just a will to his game that, that I thinks kind of, uh, lights the team like, it’s, it’s infectious every, everyone playing with him. And I think that’s why he’s getting so many, so many minutes right now. Um, but starter wise, uh, I think Portland really, and this is where I wish we had a better coaching staff, because I think Denver as talented as they.
[01:05:56] Is incredibly poor individual de defenders. Mm-hmm. [01:06:00] like Murray coming off the acl. Michael Porter Jr. Coming off of the back. Yoki, you want to dance with him around on the perimeter. You need, what, what did we say, Sage, when we played them in the playoffs two years ago. You need to win those matchups against Michael Porter Jr.
[01:06:14] Like attack him. He cannot defend you. And The Blazers, again, it was a different coaching staff, but the Blazers did not do that enough. Oh, no, no, no. You have to find your mismatch and you have to relentlessly attack it over and over and over until you make the opposing coach change and switch something up.
[01:06:33] Uh, Portland can win this game. I believe they will. Uh, I, I think the Blazers a dam dame right now, I think is just in, in one of those rhythms where they have nobody who, who can defend him. If he, if he gets going, I think it’s gonna open up the floor. Um, I think we might see good. Good Jeremy Grant in terms of usage and getting him, him the ball, that’s gonna be a really key matchup.
[01:06:57] Everyone’s probably gonna look and we, we talk, everyone’s probably gonna look [01:07:00] at, at USEF and Nicola, but the two athletic power forwards, Aaron Gordon and Jeremy Grant, which player is gonna have a bigger impact? And, and I think if you look at the box score and watch the game, the player that has the better performance, that team is gonna win because I think they, they’re swing factors for each game.
[01:07:18] Sage: Um, I think Bruce Brown and kcp are also good random bets for guys that are explosive. Like KCP earned his spot in that rotation. He’s playing a lot of minutes. Bruce Brown, I mean he, he was playing some ba he was playing some. I think that he’s their best chance that they have on containing Dame. I don’t really wanna put any money on the fact that Bruce will slow down Dame where he is at right now, but I think that Bruce Brown and Kcp are the two guys that, you know, outside of those high money players could be, uh, very effective.
[01:07:57] And then I’m, I’m, [01:08:00] Hmm, I’m trying. I think that it’s gonna be in this, your little
[01:08:03] Dustin: game. I could see that. I almost picked him.
[01:08:06] Sage: Yeah. It’s Denver has a surprisingly high, uh, a lot of like decent wings on this team. Something that they haven’t had for a while, Like KC P’S decent, Uh, Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, I mean, Peyton Watson’s there.
[01:08:24] They have Zeke Na, they have guys that have a role. It, it, I don’t know what Deandre Jordan has on the league for player for teams to keep giving him contracts, but outside of Deandre Jordan, I like. I mean Bones, Jeff, Zeke, they have some good players. This isn’t the, uh, the, the Bum squad that the Denver Nuggets have been, uh, on the bench.
[01:08:49] I mean, they’re still not one of the better benches than League, but they’re not awful. Like Bones Island could put 30 on us pretty easily. I’m gonna What’s that? What’s your [01:09:00] predictions? It’s at home. I’m going blazers when I don’t feel good about it, but I’m going. Blazers.
[01:09:05] Dustin: Yeah. I didn’t feel good about a loss or a win, so I just went the optimistic route and just took a win.
[01:09:10] Uh, the Blazers get the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Uh, it feels like you wanna play the heat early on in the season before they have found the this pollster groove. I have a feeling that this heat team isn’t going to be as good as they were last year when they were the number one seed. Uh, it just seems like they’re missing that one extra elite player.
[01:09:32] Sage: Um, bam hasn’t been that yet this year.
[01:09:35] Dustin: How, how do you, how do you match up with the heat? How do you exploit them stage and, and what, what are your thoughts on this game?
[01:09:44] Sage: I think Jeremy Grant has to make an impact. They’re looking for a power forward. It, it’s Cody Martin. They’re running really small. I guess it’s Jimmy Butler if you really wanna be real.
[01:09:55] But like this team has a huge glaring weakness at, at [01:10:00] Power Ford. I think Jeremy Grant has to make an impact. Obviously, Dame versus Kyle Lowry is a, a ma a mismatch that I would want, would want to exploit, but right now, Bam, outta bio is just missing makeable shots. He has been doing that for the last three games where it’s.
[01:10:17] He’s take, at least he’s taking them. He’s just missing a lot. Like I, uh, game one, he was like five for 15. Like he hasn’t had his bam outta bio game yet. Um, hero’s been really, really electric for this team, but for whatever reason, Bo’s been taking him out and really ruining the offense. So, uh, I I, I’m most worried that Bam has a get right game against us, but if he continues to struggle, it’s really on Tyler Hero to be the, that that creative player.
[01:10:50] So I, I guess I’m worried about Kiro and, uh, bam. And I don’t, Do we put USEF on Bam or do we put Jimmy
[01:10:57] Dustin: Grant on? Bam. I think [01:11:00] this is a perfect game to go small. Um, Cause
[01:11:02] Sage: Bams not, I, I, he’s one of the most athletically gifted bigs in the league, so you can’t put use of on ’em. But he’s the used to still has to play cuz they still have Dwayne Deadman in year seven.
[01:11:15] Um, But yeah, I think Jeremy Grant has to be a big offensively and defensively.
[01:11:19] Dustin: I think year seven did not play Saturday, so I don’t know if he’s gonna gonna play. Um,
[01:11:24] Sage: think he had an injury of some sort.
[01:11:26] Dustin: Yes. This is, I I think the Blazers win, and I think this is a Schedule Blazers win because to they, they have to play, uh, Toronto in Miami on Monday, and then this kicks off a three game West Coast trip, uh, for the Miami Heat.
[01:11:45] You either wanna be that first game or that last game against an opponent. Mm-hmm. making a cross country trip, Um, Portland, again, they’re gonna be settled, that they’re gonna be at home. They’re on this, uh, long home stand right now. And th this isn’t the Miami [01:12:00] Heat defensive old. The, they’re, they’re giving up over 110 points per game right now.
[01:12:05] Um, the game will be defined by, if Portland can not. Pump fly out at every Miami shooter. That’s been a huge bugaboo so far for Portland, has been their inability to stay disciplined on defense. They jump at every single movement or pump fake, uh, their opponent throws at them and the heat are still loaded with shooters.
[01:12:26] They still have Max STRs, they still have Duncan
[01:12:28] Sage: Robinson, Jimmy Butler. Let’s talk about him.
[01:12:31] Dustin: I mean, so I, I think that’s where the game, the game is gonna be one or lost. Uh, Miami has traditionally played really well in Portland with Eric, uh, during this Jimmy Butler Bam Outta bio era that, that this group that they’ve had.
[01:12:46] Um, I think that changes. I think Portland, uh, gets it done Again. I just don’t think this. The, the Miami Heat that everybody’s, um, used to Lowry’s a year older. Jimmy Butler’s a year older. Bambi as tremendous [01:13:00] defender as he is. He’s not the offensive player that Yeah,
[01:13:02] Sage: he’s not there yet. Offensively. Yeah.
[01:13:04] He’s not passing well, so it, it, if he doesn’t have a get right game, I think we win. But if he get, has that tune up game against the Portland Trailblazers, I think if this
[01:13:14] Dustin: was the middle game of that road trip, I pick Miami. But because they have to fly all the way to rainy Portland, they’re used to that sunshine.
[01:13:20] Um, I think Portland, uh, picks them, picks, picks them apart.
[01:13:24] Sage: Who do you have? Yeah. Alright. I’m, I’m, This isn’t gonna help with the tr uh, the, uh, predictions thing, but I kind of agree with you, but I absolutely, cuz that be, they still have two, both
[01:13:35] Dustin: of both of these two games could go. The other I
[01:13:38] Sage: think they’re coin flips.
[01:13:39] Dustin: They’re coin flips. One game I sure as shit hope is not a coin flip is the Friday night contest against the Houston Rockets, um, young team. They can beat you on any given night. I mean, they, they’ve got fire power on offense for, for days. Uh, the young bucks that they’ve got, uh, Kevin Porter Jr. They still have Eric Gordon, [01:14:00] but they have Jalen Green who has just been putting up crazy numbers.
[01:14:03] They have the number three overall pick. Jabari Smith, They, the Tar Easton has been a box score monster. Um, they, they’ve got some guys, and it’s still young and it’s still early in the season where they’re. They’re not kicked in the nuts. They’re not thinking about Cabo, they’re not thinking about Cancun.
[01:14:19] They’re still trying to play. Um, so I think Portland wins this game, but I think if they lose and we’re on this podcast next Sunday, it’s because they overlook them and they, they beat themselves. If Portland takes care of the basketball, they get to the line and they really just leaned on one another.
[01:14:38] Like, this is a game like honestly age. You need to dump it to Usef. Like, who, who is going to stop him if they just get him the ball in positive situations?
[01:14:49] Sage: Yeah. Cuz shit. Who’s their center? Um, It ain’t Chris anymore. No, it’s Alfred Segun and he’s a young boy. Well, and he is not a good defender. So it’s like, uh, [01:15:00] Grubba or.
[01:15:04] Groove was started last game, but it was, uh, shoot, shoot, shoot. He’s a really good rebounder for his position, but not much of anything else. I’m looking Ken and Martin Jr. No, it is Bruno. Fernando was Bruno. Fernando is getting the kind of spot start, so, uh, uh, Alperin can go off the bench and go against that second unit guy.
[01:15:25] So I, I, I think that every minute that use of and Rin are on the court together, you just dump it to use of, and get alperin into foul trouble. Alperin is like really, really skillful, uh, post score, but he’s really unathletic and a bad defender. So you go after him. I mean,
[01:15:45] Dustin: the team is full of bad defender stage.
[01:15:46] They’re aver again, small sample size, but they’re 29th in the league in defense, aver. They give up almost 124 a night, like, my God. So the blazers just have to want to play basketball [01:16:00] to, to win the, just move the ball, get open shots, hit your open shots, put them away early. Don’t, don’t let Houston hang around like they haven’t been competitive this year, but they sure as hell can be if you let him.
[01:16:12] Sage: Yeah, like Eric Gordon, as much as I dislike him, can absolutely go off on this game. Jabari Smith, like we jump at everything. Jabari Smith could hit threes. He hasn’t done, hasn’t had a vintage Jabari Smith game yet, but the person I’m most scared of is Jalen Green. He’s, I would love to see the Shaden Sharp versus Jalen
[01:16:37] Dustin: green match.
[01:16:37] I hope we get some of those match
[01:16:38] Sage: ups. I, I hope, Cause I, I think those two are very similar. I think Jalen Green is more athletic in like the, the frontline. Uh, speed competition. But I think that Shaan as an athlete and powerful as an athlete as he is, could really make him, uh, frustrated. [01:17:00] But, uh, mean if, if we happen to lose Jalen Green and Kevin Ford Jr.
[01:17:04] Have transcendent games, so you, like, you should know who’s good on this team. It like, it’s, it’s Jalen Alper and Kevin Porter Jr. And then the rest of the guys help. But I, I, I’m, I’m excited to see my, uh, my guy Tar East and play basketball. So you have we both have three. Yeah, it’s a three and oh week. All right.
[01:17:27] So I don’t make any ground, but it’s about trying to make the right,
[01:17:31] Dustin: uh, ab Absolutely. And I, and I even tried to say my predictions first, so you could make your, if you wanted to try makeup ground, It’s a long,
[01:17:38] Sage: it’s a long, Do you think Bull Bond’s gonna ever play like for, for real?
[01:17:43] Dustin: I don’t know. I’d take him.
[01:17:44] I love
[01:17:44] Sage: Boby. Give him, he’s bring him to, He’s old now. He’s old. I was, I’m just looking at the Rockets roster. I’m like, I know’s on. I
[01:17:52] Dustin: love, I love Boby. I love that commercial with he and John Quell Andre, he’s a movie star. He’s great. Come to Portland. [01:18:00] Get some minutes, get
[01:18:00] Sage: some dunks. No, no, no, no. I mean, yes, he’s playing in a very specialized role, but
[01:18:08] Dustin: let him beast.
[01:18:10] Um, okay, we’re talking about Boon Marinovich right now. I think it’s time to wrap this, uh, bad boy up, Sage. Um, anything else you want add before we, uh, hit the hit the end button on this
[01:18:22] Sage: one? Um, you should rate Matters and we are available on iTune, Stitcher Himalaya podcast. Everywhere you get your podcast, we’re there, like in subscribe or whatever your, uh, uh, your podcast feeder tells you to do.
[01:18:37] It really does help us, your subbing and giving a good, uh, Um, review helps the algorithm so more people can hear us. And yeah, we are doing a very niche, uh, type of podcast, but Blazer Mania is really a really big group of people, so more people that [01:19:00] listen the more people get more knowledgeable about the game.
[01:19:03] So, you know, fuck with us. We fuck with you. Um, Go Blazers. T