The Blazers’ beginning lineup — Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic — has performed 668 minutes collectively.
That is essentially the most minutes for any five-man unit this season.
Lineup continuity begins with well being. 4 of the Blazers’ 5 starters — Lillard (1), McCollum (1), Aminu (zero) and Nurkic (1) — have missed not more than one of many Blazers’ 64 video games this season. Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic have all exhibited fairly outstanding sturdiness in Portland.
Harkless has missed 20 video games, however the different side of lineup continuity is substitution patterns. And Blazers coach Terry Stotts has saved his starters on the ground collectively greater than he had in earlier seasons. The Blazers’ beginning lineup has performed 17.6 minutes per sport, the third-highest common among the many 499 lineups which have performed in a minimum of 10 video games collectively.
In McCollum’s fourth season as a starter, he and Lillard have already performed 1,865 minutes collectively, second-most amongst league-wide pairings and virtually as many as they’d performed collectively in any of the earlier three seasons.
Previous to this season, Stotts staggered Lillard and McCollum’s minutes to make sure a minimum of considered one of them was all the time on the ground. Sometimes, McCollum would sit the previous couple of minutes of the primary and third quarters, whereas Lillard did likewise the primary couple of minutes of the second and fourth.
Jusuf Nurkic (left), CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have gotten constant run collectively all season.
Final season, Lillard and McCollum shared the ground for a median of seven:50 within the first quarter. That was up from rather less than seven minutes over the earlier two seasons.
This season, Lillard and McCollum do not go to the bench on the identical time, however McCollum stays on the ground longer within the first quarter and each guards are on the bench to begin the second. On common, the 2 of have performed eight:58 collectively within the first quarter and 9:18 within the third.
The minutes with each Lillard and McCollum on the ground have by no means been higher. The Blazers have outscored their opponents by 6.three factors per 100 possessions with each within the sport, the pair’s greatest mark (by a reasonably large margin) of their 4 seasons beginning collectively. And for the reason that Blazers have been getting extra of these minutes, the development is felt much more.
The problem is that the minutes with neither Lillard nor McCollum on the ground — minutes that *did not actually exist the earlier three seasons — haven’t been good. Evan Turner has been the Blazers’ second-unit playmaker for a lot of the season, and in 457 minutes with Turner on the ground and each Lillard and McCollum on the bench, the Blazers have been outscored by 7.eight factors per 100 possessions.
(* Not counting rubbish time.)
Portland’s offense dips drastically each time each Lillard and McCollum relaxation in a sport.
The Blazers have been 14 factors per 100 possessions higher offensively with Lillard on the ground (scoring 114.eight) than they have been with him off the ground (100.eight). With each Lillard and McCollum on the bench, the minutes spanning the primary and second quarters have been tough. The Blazers have been outscored by 33 factors within the final three minutes of the primary quarter (when solely six groups have been worse) and by 61 factors within the first three minutes of the second (when solely two groups have been worse).
However that averages out to dropping simply 1.5 factors per sport in these six minutes. As a rule, the Blazers have been capable of make up for it with these prolonged Lillard-McCollum minutes. As famous above, the guards common extra minutes collectively within the third quarter (when the Blazers are a plus-7 for the season over the ultimate three minutes) than they do within the first.
Additionally, the neither-on-the-floor possibility is not as dangerous once you take a look at final yr’s numbers. Final season, the Blazers outscored their opponents by four.9 factors per 100 possessions with Lillard and McCollum on the ground collectively and by four.9 per 100 in 774 minutes with Lillard on the ground with out McCollum. However they have been outscored by 6.5 factors per 100 possessions in 1,027 minutes with McCollum on the ground with out Lillard.
The month of December did check Stotts’ resolve. The Blazers have been outscored by 19.four factors per 100 possessions (and scored an anemic 94.7 per 100) in 116 minutes that month with Turner on the ground with out both Lillard or McCollum. On Dec. 11 in Houston, the Blazers misplaced by seven in a sport during which they have been a plus-13 in additional than 35 minutes with Lillard and McCollum on the ground collectively. (In order that they have been outscored by 20 factors in lower than 13 minutes with each on the bench.)
New addition Rodney Hood (left) is carving out a distinct segment in coach Terry Stotts’ rotation.
The next night time in Memphis, Stotts went again to staggering his beginning guards’ minutes in order that considered one of them was on the ground for the whole sport. The Blazers nonetheless misplaced, Stotts went again to utilizing a full, five-man bench unit two nights later, and it rewarded him with high quality minutes in a win over Toronto on Dec. 14.
There have been extra ugly bench nights after that, however Stotts has caught with the unique plan of sitting Lillard and McCollum collectively. The Blazers’ most-used five-man bench unit — Turner, Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard — outscored its opponents by 1.5 factors per 100 possession in its 196 minutes collectively. A month in the past, the Blazers upgraded the Stauskas spot by buying and selling for Rodney Hood. On the All-Star break, in addition they added Enes Kanter off the buyout market.
As a result of Turner missed a lot of the Blazers’ post-break journey, he is performed in simply two video games with Hood and Kanter. However in 52 minutes to this point with Hood on the courtroom with out Lillard or McCollum, the Blazers have outscored their opponents by 12.four factors per 100 possessions, with a lot better offensive numbers (115.2 scored per 100) than in these Turner minutes.
We’ll see if Stotts sits his two guards collectively within the playoffs. They’re going to every absolutely play extra minutes (Lillard has averaged 40.5 minutes in his 35 profession playoff video games), and people can be utilized to both have one on the ground always or to extend the minutes that they are each on the ground collectively. There is definitely a case for the latter plan.