Are the 2019-20 Portland Trail Blazers Good?

The Portland Trail Blazers went 53-29 in 2018-19, made the Western Conference Finals, then made sure Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum got paid the big bucks so their deep-playoff-running backcourt can keep doing that thing they do for years to come. Vegas rewarded them by…penciling them in for a six-win regression at an over/under of 47.5. Buh-what now?! They lost Jake Layman, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, and Maurice Harkless. They added Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, Mario Hezonja, and Pau Gasol. My gut reaction is to say any team that subtracts Evan Turner automatically gets …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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Point Guards and Supermax Contracts Don’t Mix

The 2019 All-NBA teams came out Thursday, and the biggest winners out of all 15 players included on the list were Damian Lillard and Kemba Walker. By virtue of their second and third-team selections respectively, both are now eligible for the NBA’s “supermax” extension in their next contracts. If your first reaction to the term “supermax contract” is “oh gods, no”, then you’re probably a Wizards (John Wall), Rockets (Chris Paul), or possibly even a Thunder (Russell Westbrook) fan. Each of those players will be making well over $40 million by 2023, and each one of those players has either …

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Breakfast Special: Another Portland Four-Game Exit

The Portland Trail Blazers have been swept out of another NBA playoff series, although this time you have to give them credit for facing their demise in the Western Conference Finals rather than the first or second round. And speaking of sweeps, how about Rodney Hood getting swept out of the playoffs three times in three years on three different teams, all at the hands of the Golden State Warriors? Bonus points to Portland for blowing double-digit leads in all four games, including three in a row where they led by at least 15 and still lost. Golden State made …

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Breakfast Special: Damian Lillard on a Milk Carton

Damian Lillard‘s production has fallen off a cliff ever since he tried to choke away the second round of the playoffs for the Portland Trail Blazers more or less by himself in Game 7 of the Denver Nuggets series. He was 3-of-17 in that game, and in the first three games of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, he has shot 4-of-12, 6-of-16, and 5-of-18, a grand total of 15-of-46 (32.6 percent.) At least he was plus-8 in the Nuggets game, as CJ McCollum bailed him out. In this series, Lillard is a combined minus-42 even as …

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Breakfast Special: Ig-Whoa-Dala

Andre Iguodala just pulled off the most clutch defensive play in the NBA playoffs since…I dunno, 2016 and “The Block”? Sure, Iguodala’s game-sealing steal from Damian Lillard to seal the Golden State Warriors’ 114-111 win over the Portland Trail Blazers and put them up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals didn’t have nearly the stakes of LeBron James‘ classic defensive play in Game 7 of a Finals that was the greatest moment in Cleveland sports history, but it still made the difference between a series that isn’t expected to be competitive going chalk and “could the Blazers win this thing” …

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Breakfast Special: Curry Sibling “Rivalry”

When I was a kid, to call what my brother and I had “sibling rivalry” was to give it more credit than it deserved. It was more like he was the Pittsburgh Steelers and I was the Cleveland Browns. He was a high-achiever. I was the kid with the grades like the bra cup sizes on “Baywatch” and the drug problem. Which brings us to the following: 12-of-23 from the field, 9-of-15 from three, 36 points for Stephen Curry, 1-of-7 from the field, 1-of-4 from three, three points for Seth Curry. The Golden State Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers …

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Breakfast Special: Kawhi Leonard’s Driveway Heroics

Every kid who has ever picked up a basketball has, in the driveway, counted down “3! 2! 1!” then launched a shot that beats the buzzer, leading the kid to yell “And the Celtics win the championship!” or whatever other team the kid’s growing up rooting for. But until Sunday, there had never been an actual Game 7 walk-off buzzer-beater to close out a series in NBA history. The only time it ever happened in a winner-take-all game—Michael Jordan‘s “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo in the first round in 1989—that was Game 5 of a best-of-five series. Every other example …

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Breakfast Special: Let There Be Game 7

After a complete garbage first round that was as chalk as the White Cliffs of Dover, we’ve got ourselves the thrills and chills of Game 7 imminent in Toronto and Denver. The Philadelphia 76ers got an insane MVP-level performance from Joel Embiid on their way to a 112-101 win, and the matched set of 11-point victories got completed by the Portland Trail Blazers in a 119-108 win over Denver in the nightcap. We begin in Philadelphia. Drawing an Embiid on the Enemy Here’s your insane stat of the night. Embiid had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting, pulled down 12 rebounds, …

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Breakfast Special: Smash TV

Do you like closely-contested, intense playoff basketball that comes down to the wire and gives a thrilling finish? Well, tough. We’re fresh out. Can I interest you in a pair of one-sided beatdowns normally reserved for regular-season games against lottery teams instead? Nothing puts out the flames of an underdog in a seven-game series like losing Game 5, and the Raptors and Nuggets now get a chance to close out on the road before coming home where they’ll be heavily favored in Game 7 if that’s the way this whole show turns out. We begin in Toronto. DEFENSE! DEFENSE! To …

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