Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics 11/23/14: Video Highlights and Recap

Owners of a league-high six-game winning streak, the Portland Trail Blazers headed east as they looked to make it seven straight against the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics were looking to turn things around, having lost seven of their last 10 contests.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

Today’s game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics is underway! Stay tuned for live updates and reactions!

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Chicago Bulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers 11/21/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The red-hot Portland Trail Blazers looked to continue their recent run of success on Friday night when they took on the Chicago Bulls. The Blazers’ explosive offense and lockdown defense had carried them to five straight wins, but they faced a tough test from a dangerous Bulls squad, which had lost two of its last three. 

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How Can Terry Stotts Make Best Use of Portland Trail Blazers’ Bench?

During Terry Stotts‘ first two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, there was a common theme that was recognized across the NBA

Rip City’s bench simply couldn’t hang.

Because of the obvious struggles, the reserves were hidden on the bench in fear by the coaching staff. However, in Year 3 under Stotts, Portland’s second unit has seen enough improvement to warrant newfound faith from the man controlling the rotation.

Following a recent 97-87 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 15, Stotts said, “It was definitely a team win because we needed everybody’s contributions,” via The Oregonian‘s Mike Richman

The head coach was right. Portland’s second unit (and a starting Meyers Leonard, as well as a starting Allen Crabbe) stepped up with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum sidelined.

Damian Lillard put together a very Lillard-like performance (28 PTS, 10 AST, 5 REB), but Wesley Matthews struggled, going just 3-of-13 from the floor. 

“It just goes to show you that the young guys are getting better,” Stotts said after Portland’s bench outscored Brooklyn’s 31-16.

At this point in the process, Stotts must take this confidence one step further by digging Portland out of the basement in terms of minutes played by a second unit. The team is currently 24th in that category, according to HoopsStats.com, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support an expanded rotation.

Against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 6, the Blazers bench outscored the Dallas bench 52-35 in the fifth game of the season. It shot 57 percent and hit seven three-pointers en route to a 108-87 victory.

Then there was the Nov. 11 comeback against the Charlotte Hornets. Steve Blake and Joel Freeland made big plays on both ends down the stretch, helping Portland to a 102-100 win after a 23-point deficit.

And don’t forget the 53 points the second unit dropped on the Denver Nuggets during the Nov. 12 130-113 win.

“When everybody’s shooting decent percentages and making shots, we have just as much firepower or more than any team in the NBA,” Chris Kaman said following the win over Denver, via The Oregonian‘s Joe Freeman. “I don’t think there’s anybody that has more than we do.”

Consider Kaman’s comments to be the ego-boosted result of a blowout victory. Portland’s positive morale off the bench is good to see, but it comes primarily from not being dead last in most major categories.

Then again, we’re certainly seeing individual players step up during the early part of 2014-15. For instance, Blake has been the pass-first floor general Mo Williams never was. He’s also played a crucial role late in games with his three-point shooting and gritty defense.

Then there’s Kaman. He’s a reliable defender and can score in a multitude of ways. His personal efficiency rating (PER) of 21.3 is also third-highest on the team behind Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, according to ESPN.com.

Unfortunately, the Blazers are now dealing with an injury to C.J. McCollum. According to the Trail Blazers PR Twitter account, the sophomore has fractured his right index finger and will be out for at least four weeks.

Luckily for Portland, injuries have already proven to be less debilitating this season than in years past. Batum and Aldridge have missed time, and the team has instilled a “next man up” mentality with Freeland, Leonard, Crabbe and Will Barton contributing—something Stotts should continue to practice even as players return.

So, how can Stotts build upon the early success? A simple recipe of minutes and trust.

Despite the improvements, the second unit is still playing the seventh-fewest minutes among benches in the Association. That shouldn’t be the case for a group that’s posting a respectable 15th-best offensive efficiency, per HoopsStats.com, as well as an elite fifth-best defensive efficiency.

As far as the rotation goes, now is the time for Stotts to consistently test guys such as Crabbe and Barton as backup perimeter players if he thinks they have a shot. 

Furthermore, the team is leading the Northwest Division comfortably. Playing a deep rotation should be the plan of attack when determining if players such as Leonard, Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright can be counted on late in the year.

Amid the bench-centric analysis, it’s important to remember this isn’t solely about improving the second unit. It’s also about preserving the starters for long-term success.

“The greatest thing for us was losing to the Spurs,” Damian Lillard recently told The Oregonian‘s Joe Freeman, referring to the 2014 postseason. “Because we got to see what brand of basketball makes you successful and we got to see fresh body after fresh body and guys coming in comfortable against us. I think that’s what we’re getting to.”

So, easy enough, right? Rest the starters, increase bench minutes and work toward a better, more balanced future. 

Unfortunately, it’s tough for coaches to convince themselves that rotation experiments are best when they already know what’s working. 

With the Blazers in win-now mode, they’ve taken their 8-3 start and jumped out front in a watered down Northwest Division. They’re also about to enter a stretch in the schedule that (for the first time all year) takes them away from the friendly confines of the Moda Center on a more regular basis.

For any coach, that would be a frightening time to throw the reserves in the deep end. But if Stotts is smart, he’ll take a Gregg Popovich approach now, preparing everyone in the rotation for a deep run in the 2015 postseason.

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Trail Blazers rally for 102-93 win over Pelicans (Yahoo Sports)

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 17: Tyreke Evans #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots over Wesley Matthews #2 and Robin Lopez #42 of the Portland Trail Blazers on November 17, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers have proven their mettle with a couple of big comebacks this season.


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New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers 11/17/14: Video Highlights, Recap

In a showcase of some of the NBA‘s best talent, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans took on Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland was looking to push its win streak to five games against a Pelicans squad that had won its last two and has been led by Davis’ stellar play.

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Trail Blazers Injury Update: Nicolas Batum hopes to return for Monday’s game against the Pelicans

The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Brooklyn Nets last night by the score of 97-87. It was the fourth straight win for the Trail Blazers, who improved to 7-3 on the season, first in the Northwest Division. Damian Lillard lead the Trail Blazers with 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor, to go along with ten assists. Nicolas Batum missed the game due to a knee contusion, but he’s hopeful to return on Monday versus the New Orleans Pelicans.  Georges Biard  via Wikimedia CommonsOur own Eric Black reported on November 12 that Batum’s right knee contusion was not completely healed and he would miss the game against the Nuggets. The diagnosis was good for the Blazers, as Batum was expected to miss only a few games. David MacKay, editor of RipCityProject, noted that Batum was scratched from last night’s game as he continues to recover from the knee contusion. Allen Crabbe started in place of Batum and scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in 31 minutes.Batum, in his seventh …

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Trail Blazers Injury Update: LaMarcus Aldridge is ‘doubtful’ for tonight’s game against the Nets

The Portland Trail Blazers enter Saturday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets coming off a 130-113 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. At 6-3 on the season, the Trail Blazers sit on top in the Northwest Division. The Trail Blazers could be without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge due to a respiratory illness. Aldridge had 12 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots in 30 minutes against the Nuggets.  Aldridge left Friday’s practice with the illness and according to SI.com, Aldridge is the third player on the Trail Blazers to be sidelined this season with an upper respiratory illness, joining Steve Blake and Meyers Leonard. With Aldridge likely to miss the game, expect Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright  or Leonard to see extended playing time.Aldridge, in his ninth NBA season out of Texas, is averaging 21.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game. In 586 career games, all with the Trail Blazers, Aldridge is averaging 18.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.Follow @PhilliesFan1969  L

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets 11/12/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Portland Trail Blazers looked to continue their recent hot streak, when they took on the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. The Blazers had won two straight, and their explosive offense faced a tough test from a Nuggets squad desperate to get on track after losing five straight games.

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Lillard leads Trail Blazers over Nuggets 130-113 (Yahoo Sports)

DENVER (AP) — A little bit tired and drained entering the second night of back-to-back games, the Portland Trail Blazers nevertheless put together a startling offensive flurry.

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