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Sampson’s Four-Point Play: Reaction to POR-OKC scrimmage

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

After three scrimmages, the games will count for real when the Trail Blazers tip off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday afternoon. Hopefully, Portland’s final scrimmage, a 131-120 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, won’t be indicative of their regular season performance.

Of course they were without Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who both were given the day off by coach Terry Stotts. Jusuf Nurkic and Carmelo Anthony both also only played in the first half as Stotts looked to limit the risk of injury to his starters. While the rotation players played limited minutes, there were still things to take away from today’s scrimmage:

  1. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins showing the range. One of the keys to Zach Collins’ development has been his ability to hit the 3-pointer consistently. He certainly looked good from distance today, showing excellent form while hitting a couple 3-pointers. Jusuf Nurkic also hit a 3-pointer for the second straight game. Before last season, the team hyped up Nurkic’s ability to hit the midrange jumper, only to see him shoot below 38 percent from 10-16 feet. But it looks like the Nurkic 3-pointer is a real thing.
  2. It’s obvious, but Portland struggles to generate offense without Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. both had solid games offensively, and finished with more than 40 points combined, but their effectiveness waxed and waned throughout the game as the defense adjusted. They’re still young, they just need to figure out counters.
  3. If there has been one theme in the three scrimmage games, it’s Portland getting destroyed from the 3-point line. I get that these games don’t count, but it’s a worrying trend that the lack of 3-point defense has continued. Portland allowed a 4th-worst-in-the-league 38 percent opponent 3-point percentage before the shutdown. They’ve got to figure that out if they want to play their way into the playoffs.
  4. The starting lineup might still be rusty. We didn’t get a chance to see much of Lillard, McCollum, Melo, Collins, and Nurkic on the court at the same time. Assuming that’s the lineup that Stotts is rolling with, there might be some of the typical timing and miscommunication issues that we see with lineups that haven’t spent a lot of time on the court together.

The Trail Blazers resume the regular season against the Memphis Grizzlies in a must-win game Friday at 1pm.

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