Allen Crabbe was the recipient of a generous contract from the Blazers last summer, but Dane Carbaugh suggests a trade could be in his future (Keith Allison/Flickr).
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The Portland Trail Blazers’ prospects of advancing look grim, but the future is fairly bright, according to NBC Sports Pro Basketball Talk’s Dane Carbaugh, who also runs the popular YouTube channel Dane Not Dan, where he breaks down the NBA in video form. Compared to the previous season, the relative strength of the 2016-17 Western Conference relegated the Blazers to the No. 8 seed where they had the misfortune of drawing the otherworldly Warriors in an all-but-impossible first-round series. With Golden State up 2-0 and prized trade acquisition Jusuf Nurkic nursing a leg injury, much of the conversation’s focus turns to how the Blazers can best solidify their roster and improve defensive performance. Importantly, Dane also explores the strengths and challenges that come with the Damian Lillard-C.J. McCollum backcourt pairing. Blazing hot excerpts can be found below:
3:26-4:14 While the typical Blazers fan would love to see Jusuf Nurkic grace the court against the Warriors, Dane advocates for a more cautious approach:
“The Nurkic trade, I think, really re-solidified his [GM Neil Olshey’s] position; the same thing for [head coach] Terry Stotts. So nobody’s going into this playoff series thinking, ‘We need to win a series or win a game, even, to save someone’s job.’ No one’s going to get fired because of that. And on the flip side, you have the guy that they believe is going to be the third guy for this team for years to come, and so I don’t see a reason to risk him [worsening his injury] in any way, shape or form. He’s got a non-displaced fracture in his leg, and he’s a 7-foot tall, 280-pound man, and it’s the Portland Trail Blazers; maybe just let him rest. So it’s possible he comes back for Game 3. If he comes back at all, that is the game he’s going to do it in. If they’re down 3-0, there’s no reason for him to play in Game 4, so it would have to be Game 3. I don’t think he should come back at all.”
With brilliant play since the All-Star break and a little help from his friends, Damian Lillard has led the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed (James Schumacher/Flickr).
With fewer than 10 games remaining on each team’s regular-season schedule, valuable playoff seeding is still up for grabs all over the NBA standings. Some teams, like the Celtics, Blazers and Raptors, look like they’re hitting their stride at just the right moment, building momentum that they hope will continue through the playoffs. Others, like the Hawks and Cavaliers, are just hoping that they can stop the bleeding before it’s too late. As always, the result is much debate and movement in the penultimate regular-season edition of our power rankings.
Biggest Jumps: Portland Trail Blazers (+8), Toronto Raptors (+5), Denver Nuggets (+5), New Orleans Pelicans (+5)
Biggest Falls: Minnesota Timberwolves (-14), Detroit Pistons (-9), Atlanta Hawks (-7)
Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls halted their five-game losing streak by defeating Charlotte Monday night (Jacob Gaertner/Creative Commons).
A particularly tumultuous period sees the Warriors and Cavaliers dropping to their lowest positions of the season. Meanwhile, every other team has moved up or down at least one spot except for the Clippers and Hawks, who remained at No. 8 and 12, respectively. A handful of sub-.500 squads are recognized for their strong recent play, as the Grizzlies and Bulls are punished for their sluggish performances over the past two weeks. One final fun fact: Last edition, Chicago came in at No. 15, a full 10 spots ahead of the Hornets. This time around, Chicago clings to a single-spot lead over Charlotte after edging the Hornets Monday night.
Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+6), Minnesota Timberwolves (+5), Washington Wizards (+4)
Biggest Falls: Chicago Bulls (-6), Memphis Grizzlies (-5), Dallas Mavericks (-4), Indiana Pacers (-4), Toronto Raptors, (-4) Continue reading
Danilo Gallinari (left) is one member of the Nuggets who could find himself on the move this trade season. (Matthew D. Britt/Flickr)
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The Denver Nuggets have had their fair share of struggles so far this season, with a new head coach, a bottom-tier defense and numerous injuries to key players. We were joined this episode by Justin Faudree, a lifelong Denver Nuggets fan and periodic contributor to ESPN TrueHoop’s Roundball Mining. He takes us through all the reasons why this team has gotten off to such a poor start this season, with only one win so far against a winning team. Despite that, he is still optimistic for the future and believes that with a young core of Mudiay, Jokic and Nurkic, there are good times ahead.
Choice cuts are highlighted below:
4:45-5:40: “[Will Barton’s] been the team’s most consistent player. He’s basically taken mostly the entire offensive burden, especially when Gallinari went out with injury and Mudiay has missed 14 straight games… For what he’s had to carry and do everything so efficiently, it’s crazy, especially for someone who basically came out of nowhere for the most part.”
7:25-8:25: A possible silver lining for Emmanuel Mudiay’s ankle injury: “[Mudiay] might benefit from taking a step back and taking some time to observe the game because he’s the kind of guy who will do that. He’s a very, very hard worker. He takes his job very seriously even at 19. And he has, off the court, the right kind of attitude in order to overcome his problems, I’m sure. So, when he gets back from injury, we’ll be able to see more what he processed and if he was able to gain anything from that, and I’m betting that he did.”