LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla – News, notes and observations from a Friday afternoon in the bubble …
- Let’s not bury the lede: Damian Lillard is going to play on Saturday. Terry Stotts confirmed that Lillard, who suffered a dislocated finger in his left (non-shooting) hand in Portland’s loss to the Lakers on Thursday, would be in the lineup on Saturday. Stotts said Lillard will received multiple treatments throughout the day and could wear a splint during the game. Lillard scored 18 points in Game 2, his lowest output in the bubble.
- The Blazers played eight must-win games in the bubble, followed by a play-in game victory over Memphis. In Game 2, against the Lakers, they looked lifeless.
- “I will say last night was probably the first time we didn’t have the same bounce. I don’t know if it’s mental or physical fatigue. We weren’t moving the same as we had in previous games. We’ve basically played nine playoff games just to get to this spot … it probably did take a toll at some point. But what we have proved is that we’re up to the task.”
- Is the fatigue manageable in a bubble environment where the Blazers have to play every other day?
- “Honestly I think it’s more manageable in this environment,” Stotts said. “There are no distractions. You have ample opportunity to get treatment and rest. There is no travel. Once you leave the gym, you have no distractions.”
- Austin Rivers didn’t mince words: “I’ve never seen our defense be like this. I’ve never seen our defense be this good.” Indeed, Houston has been downright stingy against Oklahoma City. The Thunder are averaging 103 points per game—seven below its season average. They are shooting 44.2% from the floor, down from 46.8% in the regular season. In the fourth quarter of Game 2, Houston held Oklahoma City to 20 points on just 33% shooting.
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- TJ Warren was one of the bigger stories in the NBA restart, scoring 53 in Indiana’s opener and putting up 32-plus in four of his six games. Miami, though, has largely held Warren in check. Warren is averaging just 18 points. In Game 2, he missed all five of his free throws.
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