Preseason Primer: Blazers host Clippers in preseason opener

The NBA preseason shares something in common with the classic improv show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”: the points don’t matter.

Where the two differ is that while “Whose Line” was about improvisation, the preseason in the NBA is an opportunity for teams to put what they’ve been implementing in training camp against another team in a live action setting. Even if the points don’t matter, it can help the coaching staff see some of the results of their process.

After a month of playing against each other, since players started coming back to Portland and playing in open gyms, the Trail Blazers are excited to see some new faces. They start their slate of seven preseason games with their first of three at the Moda Center tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers at 7 P.M.

“I’m just as excited as everybody else,” said Damian Lillard at Monday’s shoot around. “We’ve played together for a whole month now, just in open gyms and practice against each other this whole week hard, every day, twice. So, to finally see somebody else lineup across from us, that’ll be fun.

“Yeah, I like those guys but I want to see new faces,” said Nicolas Batum.

From a personnel standpoint, CJ McCollum is out indefinitely with a broken foot and Earl Watson (left calf contusion) will not play. Head coach Terry Stotts said he was unsure of the status of starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (quad) and the newly acquired Mo Williams (ankle) and nothing has changed as of shootaround. Their status will be announced pre game at the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers process this training camp has been one focused on the defensive end and Lillard stressed the concepts that they need to carry into live game action.

“We’ve got to be in position to help each other. I think that’s the biggest thing. You know, there’s five people out there so you know it’s not just my responsibility to guard my man,” he said. “When you get in a real game set, it’s tough to be in those spots that you’re in, in practice. Sometimes it’s just in half court and you might not be as tired. So, we’ve got to be disciplined enough to get where we’re supposed to be defensively.”

Although the result won’t have an impact on this team, being able to see how the team executes the new defensive principles in an uncontrolled environment could.

Tip-off is at 7 P.M. and the game will not be shown locally on television but can be heard locally on the radio on 620 AM.



Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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