Trail Blazers look to overcome road woes in Cleveland
The road hasn’t been kind to the Portland Trail Blazers thus far in the early season.
The Trail Blazers continue their search for their first victory away from Portland on Wednesday when they conclude a three-game trek against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Portland has dropped double-digit decisions in all three of its road contests this season, including a 125-113 setback at Charlotte on Sunday and a 113-103 defeat at Philadelphia the following night.
Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups dismissed the notion his team let its guard down on Monday against a 76ers team that was without All-Star center Joel Embiid (rest), forward Tobias Harris (health and safety protocols) and Ben Simmons (personal).
“I just think that we’re not good enough to let our guard down against anybody,” Billups said. “We’re here in the early part of the season trying to win … We’ve had two great opportunities in back-to-back days and just didn’t get it done. But we don’t make excuses at all.”
While Norman Powell made 8 of 12 shots from the floor for a team-high 22 points, Damian Lillard finished with 20 points despite a 7-for-20 performance from the floor and 2-for-9 effort from 3-point range. That performance came one day after he made just 5 of 20 shots from the field and 2 of 14 from beyond the arc versus the Hornets.
“It’s more frustration than anything. Just because it’s what you expect from yourself,” Lillard said of his early season shooting woes. “Like Chauncey said, it’s important for me to stay level and keep your mind right and your mind strong and I focus on finding solutions and that’s without doing nothing crazy, just searching for a solution, you know, being unsure and trusting my work.”
While Portland is finishing up its road trip on Wednesday, Cleveland concluded a successful five-game trek with a 113-110 win in Charlotte.
“To go 3-2 on this trip is a hell of an accomplishment,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Any five-game trip you go on, if you come out above .500, it’s a hell of accomplishment. And then you throw in the teams that we played, and then the travel at the end of it, this is a hell of an accomplishment for this group. You see them in the locker room and they’re bonding. They’re coming together. That’s the fun part.”
The frontline of Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen and Evan Mobley combined for 60 points, 34 rebounds, seven blocks and five steals on Monday. Allen scored 15 of his team-high 24 points in the first quarter and Markkanen had a season-high 21 points.
“If you look at Vegas, on paper, we probably weren’t supposed to win a lot of games. We didn’t let that get in the way of how we wanted to play Cavs basketball,” Allen said. “We’ve had some slip ups, but for us to end the road trip on a high note, it’s a confidence boost for us as a team.”
Cleveland’s Kevin Love is expected to miss Wednesday’s game while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
The Trail Blazers recorded two convincing victories over the Cavaliers last season, including a 141-105 romp in Cleveland. Lillard collected 32 points and nine assists in that contest.
–Field Level Media