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PLAYOFFS: Blazers Awful, Embarrassed in Game One

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Memphis leads series 1-0


"We got our ass kicked," said LaMarcus Aldridge. "That's how to put it."

Indeed, the Trail Blazers were embarrassed Sunday, as they opened the playoffs in Memphis. In nearly every aspect of the game Portland were awful, beaten like a cheap drum.

The 100-86 final score does not accurately reflect the totality of their feeble play, nor Memphis' domination. The Grizzlies were more aggressive, accurate, and full of heart. They wanted it more and they took it. 

Portland never led, and they never had a chance.

One could try to explain this excruciating loss by exploring the numbers, the matchups or the game plan, but at this juncture it's beside the point.

While the Grizzlies deserve credit, the Blazers--and particularly Damian Lillard--laid a big, fat, stinking egg. 

Portland failed to raise their intensity and focus to meet the demands of playoff basketball.

It's that simple.

Like Aldridge said: they got their ass kicked.



LaMarcus Aldridge
Memphis' front line flustered Aldridge early with physical play, and it took him a while to get his composure. During that time he forced a lot of shots, and played outside of himself. He got so heated as to pick up a rare technical foul, just his third of the season. But Aldridge kept pushing back, battling in the trenches all game long. He finished with 32 points, but took a whopping 34 shots to get their, his most ever in a playoff series. He also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end. In his post game comments, Aldridge alluded to the many attempts and early struggles, but he deserves credit for sticking with it and fighting when nothing else was going right.


Nicolas Batum
Batum was one of the rare bright spots for the Blazers. The few days of rest seemed to do him well. He made 3-of-his-6 attempts from three, which is going to matter going forward if the Blazers are going to have a chance. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.


Robin Lopez
Pretty anonymous, forgettable performance for Lopez, who took two shots and missed them both. He finished with just two points and five rebounds while playing only 19 minutes. More importantly going forward, the Blazers are going to need much more physicality from Lopez to blunt that of the Memphis' front line. If they're going to hit the Blazers, Lopez needs to hit them back.


CJ McCollum
As Arron Afflalo, with a strained shoulder, was unable to go Sunday, McCollum got the start. It was McCollum's first playoff game and it looked like it. He was a disaster on both ends. He finished with just two points, making 1-of-8 shots from the field. Part of that can be chalked up to nerves--or at least the Blazers are hoping so. Afterwards, Afflalo said he hopes to try playing on Wednesday, and surely McCollum's poor performance adds some extra urgency. Whether or not Afflalo can go, it wouldn't be surprising to see Blazers coach Terry Stotts move McCollum to the second unit, where he has thrived. And if Afflalo isn't ready to go, the job could fall to Allen Crabbe.


Damian Lillard
A lot of times Damian Lillard's poor defense is shaded by his scoring. That wasn't the case, Sunday. He was terrible on both ends. He couldn't slow Mike Conley, and Beno Udrich had an absolute field day. On offense, meanwhile, Lillard missed all six of his three-point attempts, and managed just 5-of-21 overall, while adding just three assists. And it wasn't so much what the Grizzlies were doing to him--Lillard has proven his ability to score against even the NBA's elite defenders. Sunday, he just didn't have it. His performance can be summed up in a nutshell: in the third quarter he missed two-straight free throws and, on the next possession, air-balled a three-pointer. To be sure, this was the worst playoff game of Lillard's career.


Chris Kaman
More than Lopez, Kaman had some success against Memphis' front line. It was his first time in the post-season in 10 years and, unlike many of his teammates, with played with the requisite intensity. He had seven points and six rebounds in 14 minutes.


Meyers Leonard
While a good portion of his seven points and nine rebounds came in absolute garbage time, Leonard's size and ability to stretch the floor could give Grizzlies second unit trouble. He made 2-of-3 from distance, Sunday, and if he can keep that up, expect him to get more run as the series continues.

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