The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Sacramento Kings 115-108 on opening night of the 2022-23 NBA season. The competition was close throughout, breaking the hypothetical tie by playing the Portland forwards against the landslide scoring from Kings guard De’Aaron Fox.
If you want to see a quarterly description of the procedure, you can find it in the immediate summary. After you realize it, here are dozens of factors that affected the game.
inside a crime
The Blazers have demonstrated a clear and consistent commitment to getting the ball down the lane in this game. They tried 28 three-pointers, but scored 56 in the paint. This is the opposite of their customary rules. They didn’t run off the long ball, but it wasn’t their first choice. Instead, they push for exercise or jump backwards indoors. Constantly attacking the fairway had the side benefit of making mistakes. Portland attempted 33 free throws tonight, frustrating Team HECK from the Sacramento crowd.
Pushing tempo from rebounds and spins was a big part of Portland’s attack. They were playing opportunistically whenever the ball changed sides. It was fast and tough as we’ve seen the Blazers run forever. Quick breaks have always been a dead zone for Portland. Tonight they registered 20 fugitives. not bad.
16 Forced rotation didn’t hurt things. Saying that Portland played a good defense would be a stretch, but they kept their hands busy and tried to force them to steal. When they got one, they were out of the races.
When they got stuck on the half-court, the Blazers had little trouble. None of the ball players have been able to get past the active young Sacramento defenders individually. When it came to singles play, the Blazers failed, with whistle free throws providing the only real relief.
They solved this problem to some extent by using center screens. Blazers are neither deep nor overly talented in the middle, but their seniors can stand up straight and absorb the blow. With centers selected from multiple places on Earth, the Portland Rangers found layers they couldn’t form themselves. For Anfernee Simons, that was enough. Sometimes it was for Lillard, too. Instead, the guards made passes against Sacramento’s collapsing defense, finding forward at the arc or ledge.
The screen setup was one of the most consistent aspects of tonight’s half-court offense in Portland. They deserve a lot of praise for their commitment to the scheme and making it work.
Lillard up and down
Damian Lillard certainly looked confident when he first took the floor ten months ago. His shot didn’t follow him to court. His infrequent three-point attempts looked respectable as he let go of his hands, but he rolls the dice to see where it hit the edge. His driving was hampered by his lack of speed compared to his defenders. When he managed to get in, he ended up shooting himself with his outstretched hands.
To be fair, Sacramento walked into Ms. adamantly. Make them pay with the scrolling game. He seems committed to preparing his teammates and counting their results as his own.
Lillard fired 5-18 from the field, only 1-8 from the arc, notching 20 points and 8 assists in his first appearance of the season.
Simmons Inn & Out
Anfernee Simons helped lead the attack on the interior. He didn’t take a lot of triples early on, and focused on finding the edge instead. He shot confidently as he took an open look at the bow. This hasn’t happened as often as in previous years.
However, the down-to-earth look is testimony enough. Simmons was not in pre-season. It’s a good sign for the Blazers that he seemed confident in his role.
Simmons scored 22 goals in a 9-22 shot, 3-10 from distance.
Shydon Sharp got the breakup on almost every drive attempt, but had trouble finishing. His first two steps seemed easy, but when the players closed he seemed to be taking a sideways look.
However, he had no such problem with triple hunting. Those sounded sharp and instant. The rookie scored 12, hitting 3-3 from the arc in his NBA debut.
The jury is the corner
Josef Nurkic was part of the impressive show mentioned above. Full marks for that. He did really well on the boards, with 7 in 25 minutes.
The rest of the evening was mixed. Your light seemed slow. Defense and attack seemed to slow down when he was brought to court, not to mention when the Blazers tried to work through him. Norkic had 4 turns and shot 3-9 from the field.
The experience needs more time, but this is something to watch. There is no option to sit your light. It’s tough when the less talented quarterback behind him seems to be playing faster and, at least tonight, better.
If rebound is an issue for this length and mass challenged team, he won’t show up tonight. The Blazers had 11 offensive rebounds, while the Kings only had 4, Sacramento sure isn’t a giant team either, but it’s still hopeful.
If you’ve been hoping to get back to Terry Stotts, the offense of the past with three point heavyweights, you’ll have to wait a while. Portland shot 11-28 from a respectable distance of 39.3%. They just did not give birth to trying, preferring to go inside.
Kings had no such problem. Portland did a reliable job facing shooters one-on-one. They could not close any action. Sacramento 17-44 fired from the arc.
If you’re calculating, that’s an 18-point deficit of the arc. That will be a statistic to watch this season.
Jerami Grant made his Portland debut. He was active in defense as advertised. Kings record, but not so much in his department. Plus Grant Make the most of your chance combinations. He stayed on the sidelines for threes to hunt and shoot, and became one of the few Blazers to actually hit from distance. When he got the ball, he drove it quickly, either by converting kicks or drawing fouls with a change of direction. He even grabbed a few boards, including a powerful counter-attack backstroke for third.
Grant’s stat streak read 23 points in a 5-11 shootout, 3-3 arc, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in 35 minutes. If the Blazers got that from him every night, they’d be high.
Gotta have a hart
Josh Hart was on the floor tonight in his usual style. His greatest contributions came in the third period. When Portland started falling by a double, Hart ran to the ground and got into the ball. His quick passes and short shots provided a consistent streak of points when nothing else worked. His constant aggression was evident. He and Grant really lit up the team in the second half. Hart’s last stat streak read: 19 points, shooting 8-11, 7 rebounds, 5 assists in 38 minutes.
And justice for all
Justis Winslow was key to the Blazers’ third and fourth terms. He played defense, converting passes, snatching rebounds, and even hitting a three-pointer. Coach Chauncey Billups kept him on overtime late, even when the players came back. Some of the rookies were no longer as Winslow played power forward and center during crunch time. It was a testament to his efforts. Winslow scored 11 points and 8 rebounds (3 offensive) in a 5-9 shot in 26 minutes. That’s one minute more than Nurkic has played.
In case it wasn’t clear, the Portland forwards – Grant, Hart and Winslow – won this game with the Blazers in the second half. Their energy, freshness, and commitment to driving gave Portland the spark it needed.
If the Portland Rangers swung during this contest, D’Aaron Fox wouldn’t have such problems. Sacramento point guard shot 12-21, 5-9 from the arc en route to 33 points. The Blazers had no answer for him in defense. Get well soon, Gary Payton II.
The Blazers face the Phoenix Suns Friday night in their opening game at Moda Center at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Ocean.
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