Trail Blazers Game 2 Changes

Published: April 17, 2018

What do you want to see more or less of in Game 2?

42: I want to see better rebounding. I have been beating the rebouding drum all season, but it really shows how important rebounding is against the Blazers who are both good it at and rely on it, especially when Lillard and McCollum are not at their best. I’d also like to see a little more Pelicans’ activity at the line, more Diallo, and less Nurkic. That might all go hand-in-hand-in-hand-in-hand.

Mason: I’ll give one answer for each. I want more of, well, Moore. The Pelicans’ starting wing played by far the fewest minutes of any of the starters, despite the relative ineffectiveness of Miller and Hill. While Moore did have a couple of lapses in the 4th, I do not think he should have been on the bench for the final ~6 minutes of the fourth quarter. He did a great job of covering McCollum throughout the game (as Zach Lowe also noted this morning) while Jrue handled Lillard, and also has the size to better handle switches out of pick and rolls. Which brings me to what I want to see less of – Rondo/Clark back courts. These lineups got blitzed in Game 1, as the Pelicans were outscored by 18 points in 16(!) minutes. That is the most that those two have played together in a single game all year long, and they were the worst 2-man combo out of the 42 different pairings who played at least 250 minutes together for the Pelicans this season. They’re just too undersized on defense and on the glass, and that’s before you consider the fact that Jrue is sometimes also in those lineups (the Rondo-Clark-Jrue 3-man group was -8 in 7 minutes). If Gentry adjusts his rotations and gives Moore a few more of Rondo’s minutes (39 is a lot for him), they should be in good shape.

Michael Pellissier: I want to see more of how the Pelicans defended the Trail Blazers last game.  Lillard was quiet throughout most of the game because the Pelicans were swarming him with defenders and forcing him to give up the ball to his teammates.  So much of Portland’s offensive success comes from Lillard/CJ, and the Pelicans forced it out of the hands of those guys in the halfcourt setting.  It was an awesome strategy, but it is far harder to do after turnovers, and that burned the Pelicans in the 4th quarter last game.

Portland hammered us on the boards, generating opportunity after opportunity, but I think it was a necessary result of this strategy. You have to give up something, and the Pelicans flooded Lillard/CJ with attention, leaving 1 v 1s on the defensive boards vs a bigger Portland frontcourt.  A shift in focus to shore up the rebounding and you’re likely leaving these guys with more space.  I don’t love giving them second chance opportunities, but I think it might be necessary.  I’m interested to see how Portland changes their offense given the Pelicans’ strategy last game.

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