Around The World: April 16, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Freeland's Return Gives Meaning To Portland's Final Regular Season Game

“We’ll probably play (Freeland) in five minute stretches so we don’t extend him too much,” said Stotts. “Today we saw Joel Freeland and the things that he was doing before he got hurt. I think it’s important for him to get that game rep back in.”

Trail Blazers: Gary Payton Interviews Damian Lillard

“It was tough to go to the park and be able to get onto the court with some people, you had to be tough. You had to be ready to protect yourself and you had to be able to stand up to people. It was always a challenge, whether it was gangs or people that you grew up with involved drugs. Just things that could take you off course of wanting to be successful.”

Trail Blazers: Lillard On New Deal With Adidas: 'It's A Challenge For Me'

“It is, but I’ve got to give the credit to hard work and my teammates allowing me to be who I am on the floor and allowing me to have the success that I’ve had up to this point. I’m just looking forward to playing in the playoffs and enjoying this team that I just signed.”

Trail Blazers: Playoff Notes: Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets

“ In four games against the Rockets, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 107 total points, his highest point total against any team this season. Aldridge also grabbed a total of 62 rebounds against Houston, his highest rebounding total again any opponent and second-highest rebounding average (15.5)”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Clippers Preview

"Coach Terry Stotts said Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez all will start against the Clippers, but LaMarcus Aldridge may be inactive for extra rest.”

Oregon Live: Quick: LaMarcus Aldridge Looks And Sounds Different Before These Playoffs, During Which He Says 'I Want To Be More Dominant'

“The playoffs comes down to one-on-one matchups, guys making plays,’’ Aldridge said. “That’s what the playoffs is about. I think Brandon Roy showed that when he went off and had that crazy game against Dallas – an individual performance gave us that win. So I think guarding one-on-one will be big for us.’’

Oregon Live: Clippers' Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick Not With Clippers For Game Vs. Trail Blazers

“The Clippers still have the opportunity to gain the No. 2 seed, but first need help from Detroit, which plays at Oklahoma City (58-23) at 5 p.m. The Thunder-Pistons game should end about the time the Blazers and Clippers tip off, so the Clippers should know if they still have a chance at the second seed before play starts at the Moda Center.”

CSNNW: Lillard Took Exception To Beverley's Radio Hit, Reason It'll Be One Heck Of A Playoff Series

“Yeah, I want to win the matchup,” Lillard said. “I think my team has a better chance if I’m able to play well against him. But I’m not going in thinking I have to outplay him. I have to go out there and be myself. That’s it. He’s one of the toughest defender out there. It’ll be fun.”

Columbian: Blazers Focus On Rockets Heading Into Season Finale

"I can't remember knowing on Sunday who we were going to play," Stotts said Tuesday. "The fact that we can spread out our preparation time makes it easier for not only the players but the video staff and everybody else instead of trying to cram for an exam."

Portland Tribune: 'Worst Possible Series For Me'

"My heart is in Portland. I played almost 12 years there. I grew up in Houston. I have two homes. It’s the worst possible series for me. These are my teams. I can’t pick a winner."

RipCityProject: Robin Lopez Has Chance To Break Offensive Rebounding Record

"Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez is six offensive rebounds away from tying a single-season franchise record held by Chris Dudley (1994-1995) and Kermit Washington (1979-1980). The former Trail Blazers share the offensive rebounding record with 325 apiece, though Washington accomplished the feat in 80 games to Dudley’s 82. With one game remaining in the 2013-2014 regular season, and 81 games under his belt, Lopez sits at 319, within striking distance of the franchise record."

CNNSI: The X-Factor

“Beverley has scrapped with Westbrook and Paul. He was punched by Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, pushed by Grizzlies 7-footer Marc Gasol and trashed by Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. "I'm just not going to let somebody be all in my chest," Lillard moaned, "doing all this extra stuff." Beverley empathizes with Lillard. He'd be irritated, too, getting picked up full court, spun around three times and jostled for 12 seconds before he can run a play. "I hate being pressured," Beverley says. "I hate when someone gets in my personal area. That's why I do it to everybody else. If I had to play myself, I'd probably want to fight me too."”

CNNSI: Regular Season Grades For All 30 Teams

"The Blazers thoroughly outperformed all expectations, even their own. Now, the 28-year-old Aldridge will get his first shot at a playoff-series victory as a No. 1 option in his prime, and Lillard, an All-Star in his second year, will get his first taste of postseason action. The Blazers would love for their dream season to continue to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. But if it doesn’t happen, Blazermaniacs will take consolation in the fact that the entire starting five is already locked in for 2014-15."

CBS: NBA Playoffs: Ranking Threat Levels Of Each Postseason Unit

“I could be overrating the Blazers. They had a fantastic regular season and have a great mix of superstars (LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard) and veteran talent. They can hit shots like few teams, and for much of the season were the best team in the West. ”

CBS: Trend Watch: The Playoffs Are Coming

“Raptors, Bulls, Nets, Trail Blazers. The three mid-level East teams and one Western. With the Pacers No. 1 in the East, two of those three in the East will have their chance at an upset ripe Indiana squad in the second round. It's not hard to picture the Nets -- who have been one of the hottest teams in the league since January -- or the Raptors -- who are quietly very talented -- springing that kind of upset. The Blazers though have won eight of their last 10, and since getting LaMarcus Aldridge back healthy from injury, have been back to their winning ways. They could give the Rockets a strong push in the opening round and while the Spurs are a beast not to be trifled with, the Blazers starting five with their length and athleticism, could make it tough.”

TrueOakland: Bogut-less In April

“Draymond Green should see more time, especially at the 4 spot. Jackson has already said that he likes the Lee at center, Green at power forward lineup and that he will use it in the playoffs. This look makes for an intriguing playoff experiment, especially if Andre Iguodala plays within it. Green and Iguodala have comprised a vicious defensive one-two punch this season. Can they do it with almost no rim protection in the background? The Lee-Green-Iguodala-Klay Thompson-Curry lineup held opponents to a stingy 89.2 points per 100 possessions over the 105 minutes they shared. ”

ESPN: And The HabersTrophy Goes To ...

“Inconsistency is the only consistency when you launch an NBA-high 7.9 3-point attempts per game. Curry has three single-digit scoring games and three 40-plus scoring infernos on his ledger. Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have zero single-digit scoring games combined. For two weeks in March, Curry couldn't crack 20 points. And now he's scored 31, 24, 30, 47 and 32 in his past five games. Put it all together and he owns the NBA's highest standard deviation of scoring totals (9.2). Wild.”

SLAM: Post-Up: Down To The Wire

“For the Nuggets, Aaron Brooks had a team-high 19 points and Timofey Mozgov added 18 and 11 rebounds. The Clippers still have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed in the West—they need to beat the Blazers and have the Thunder lose to the Pistons. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll open the postseason against the Golden State Warriors. Doc Rivers announced after Tuesday’s game that Griffin and JJ Redick won’t play against Portland, so it appears the second seed isn’t a top priority for Los Angeles.”