Trail Blazers Enter Summer League Tournament As Two-Seed, Face Hawks Thursday Night

by Casey Holdahl
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LAS VEGAS -- The players who were carryovers from Portland’s 2017 summer league team that made it to the tournament finals a year ago have made it clear that returning to the championship game was their goal going into the 2018 exhibition in Las Vegas.

After five days and three games in the desert, they’ve put themselves in about the best possible position to reach that goal.  

Thanks to a perfect 3-0 record in the preliminary round of the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League, the Portland Trail Blazers enter tournament play as the two-seed and will face the winner of Hawks vs. Pacers Thursday night at Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

Four other teams — the Nuggets, Rockets, Lakers and Suns — finished the preliminary round with a 3-0 record, though the Trail Blazers earned the two-seed thanks to tiebreakers determined by “quarter-points” and point differential. The Lakers earned the one-seed, setting up a potential rematch of the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League tournament final, which the Lakers won 110-98. Both the Trail Blazers and Lakers get first-round byes as the tournament’s top seeds.

With an extra day of rest, the Trail Blazers will face the 18th-seeded Atlanta Hawks, a team that advanced out of the first round by way of defeating the Indiana Pacers 107-101 Wednesday night. The Trail Blazers and Hawks have already played one game at the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League, with Portland taking the contest 85-68 behind 23 points from Jake Layman. John Jenkins and Anfernee Simons each finished with 12 and Wade Baldwin IV added seven points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and two steals.

If the Trail Blazers can manage to best the Hawks twice in as many attempts, they’ll move on to the quarterfinals in a game that would take place Sunday, July 15 at 5 p.m at Thomas & Mack. If the Trail Blazers lose, they’ll play the loser of Clippers vs. Lakers on Friday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m. Regardless, Portland will play at least two more games before the end of their run in Las Vegas.

Tonight’s game against the winner of Pacerswill air on ESPN2. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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