Practice Report: Blazers work on defense, zone coming soon?

AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens

AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens

The recent stretch of the schedule has afforded the Portland Trail Blazers two luxuries at this juncture, nearing the halfway point of an NBA season: rest and meaningful practice time.

Both are tough to come by and haven’t been too available for the Blazers in a little while. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has talked about balancing adequate rest for the players with taking advantage of practice time to work on things.

Defense has been an issue and we’ll have more for you soon on how the Blazers have addressed their recent struggles to the team.

Today, however, the Blazers continued to work on their defense. They studied film but perhaps a the most interesting development was that the Blazers worked on a few zone defenses.

Stotts has addressed questions about zone defense before and the Blazers had an entire practice dedicated to zone in training camp.

“Training camp was a one and done day. I didn’t want to touch it because that day didn’t workout very well,” Stotts said.

Nicolas Batum agrees with his coach that the zone defense wasn’t very pretty.

“I remember we had a zone practice a couple of months ago. That was probably our worst practice of the year,” Batum said. “Today we got more focused.”

Stotts feels that now that the team has had more time to gel together has helped them improve on their zone defense. Stotts also said that most of the man-to-man defensive principles apply to their zone schemes, which helped some as the team has become more familiar with those.

It should be interesting to see how and when Stotts implements the zone going forward.

While the Blazers defense is still in the bottom-ten in the league, it’s interesting to note that they’ve stuck with their system even their consistency has wavered unlike last season.

“We’re not going to change our defensive principles where as we did last year. We had a different defensive set almost for every game,” said Wesley Matthews.

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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