PORTLAND — In the middle of January, the Portland Trail Blazers were able to have three days off to have hard practices and put in new offensive sets and defensive schemes.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts did not use the time in the same fashion this time around.
“We didn’t practice quite as hard as we did the last time we had three days off,” he said. “We got a lot of shots up. I think it was good to catch our breath and get back focused.”
As far as new schemes, Stotts said they only “tinkered” a little bit.
There were a few guys who silently like the Broncos in Sunday’s matchup.
Damian Lillard thinks Seattle will win and is supporting fellow Oakland native Marshawn Lynch.
Terry Stotts was the only one who predicted a score, going with the Seahawks, 27-24.
Earl Watson did not choose a team but then came back to say he wants the game to end on a Richard Sherman interception.
A Tale of Two Teams
The Toronto Raptors are a very different team since the last time these two teams faced in November.
Only a few weeks after Portland got an overtime win in Toronto, the Raptors traded forward Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings for a host of bench players.
Since trading Gay on Dec. 8, the Raptors were 19-9 going into Saturday’s game and have had a defense among the best in the NBA since.
“Offensively, they’ve really opened things up,” said Terry Stotts. “They’re shooting a lot of threes since the trade. The four guys they got from Sacramento have been instrumental in their play.”
The Raptors, however, were without one of their bench players in the flu-ridden Greivis Vasquez.
The NBA’s only Venezuelan said that playing in Portland has a special meaning for him.
In 1992, Portland hosted the Tournament of the Americas, an event well known as the first tournament the 1992 USA Dream Team played.
However, the team that got second in that tournament and qualified for the Olympics was Venezuela.
The Venezuelan national team has not made it back since and Vasquez remembers that iconic 1992 team every time he comes to Portland.
“Portland is something historical for us Venezuelans,” he said. “It’s always special for me to come here and be reminded of that moment. It always gives me a lot of motivation to keep working to bring my national team to an Olympics.”