Good morning fans, Antonio here. Despite a cold night from Damian Lillard, the Blazers squeaked by the best team in the East once again on Thursday, winning in a nail-biter. Carmelo Anthony carried the Blazers in the fourth quarter as the team rallied to stave off Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
In front of national TV, the country was shown how deep the Blazers roster is, and how they can still compete with the big boys of the NBA. With two major injuries, Portland is still sitting in fifth place in the West at 14-10. There’s a lot to feel good about. Let’s take a deeper look.
The Blazers Can Hit Threes
This statement is rather obvious, but Portland once again showed how well adept their shooters are. The Blazers started 7/8 from downtown and finished 17/38 from three. This continued their streak of hitting 10 or more threes in a game, passing 20 games earlier last week. This team can flat out shoot.
What’s mesmerizing to me is how Portland can do this all while not passing the ball. Most teams require a lot of catch and shoot threes to bump their numbers up. If you watched the Blazers battle Philadelphia without Ben Simmons, you saw how the team struggled to shoot without a facilitator. The Blazers are different.
Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent, and Carmelo Anthony all can make iso threes. Against Philadelphia, the four healthy players made 14 of them, most unassisted. If this team can keep up those numbers, they are hard to stop from three.
Carmelo Anthony remains perplexing. Through the first three-quarters of the game, Melo seemed a bit out of it. Nothing crazy, but he simply was not a factor. But in the fourth quarter, he dialed back the clock and reverted to his prime Denver Nugget days. 17 fourth-quarter points to lead Portland to a comeback win, and let everyone know he would not stay tired
I’ve written about Anthony more than any other Blazer player (Damian Lillard included). That’s because Lillard is usually consistent. His off game is a 24 point outing, and his explosions are fun but expected. Carmelo can go from a 2 point game to a 23 pointer at the drop of the hat.
At best, Carmelo is inconsistent. But it’s working. When Lillard, McCollum, or even Gary Trent are having an off night, Carmelo can come in and give you 20, if he’s not needed, he’ll fade back. It may be perplexing, but when Melo steps up, the Blazers win.
Ant Looks Comfortable
In the second quarter, Anfernee Simons threw a perfect half-court pass to Rodney Hood for a layup. I sat back for a second, then realized. Anfernee Simons threw a pass. A half-court pass. A perfect half-court pass!
At the beginning of the season, it appears that the young guard was more destined for a shooting guard than a point guard. He has stepped it up over the last few games. He still shoots a bit more than passes, but his numbers are gaining, and he’s continuing to look for the open man on drives.
The idea of Simons at backup PG seemed like a pipe dream. Now he’s working at making it a reality.
Next Up: The Cavaliers come to town as the Blazers face the second half of a back-to-back.