Two-Game Preseason Trip Starts Wednesday Afternoon In Phoenix

by Casey Holdahl
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After playing their first two preseason contests at home over the course of seven days, the Portland Trail Blazers (0-2) will finish up their exhibition schedule by playing two games on the road in three days. First up, tilt with the Suns on Wednesday afternoon at the FootPrint Center in Phoenix. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

SERIES HISTORY

ALL TIME: Suns lead, 108-125
PORTLAND HOME: Trail Blazers lead, 72-44
PHOENIX HOME: Suns lead, 81-36
LAST PORTLAND WIN: 121-105, 3/10/20 (Portland)
LAST PHOENIX WIN: 118-117, 5/13/21 (Phoenix)
CURRENT WIN STREAK: Three (Phoenix)

SERIES NOTES

• Wednesday's game is the only preseason matchup between Portland and Phoenix. The teams will play four times during the regular season, with the first meeting coming on Saturday, Oct. 23 in Portland.

• Damian Lillard averaged 31.7 points (55.6% FG, 32.0% 3-PT, 89.5% FT), 4.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists in three games (all starts) against Phoenix in 2020-21.

• CJ McCollum played in one game against Phoenix in 2020-21, finishing with 27 points (11-19 FG, 5-9 3-PT), one rebound and six assists on May 13.

• In three games against the Suns last season, Robert Covington averaged 11.7 points (48.0% FG, 52.9% 3-PT), 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.67 steals and 1.00 block.

• In three games against Portland in 2020-21, Devin Booker averaged 29.0 points (52.7% FG, 45.5% 3-PT, 100% FT), 4.7 re- bounds and 4.7 assists.

• Chris Paul played in three games against the Trail Blazers in 2020-21, averaging 15.7 points (50.0% FG, 57.1% 3-PT, 100% FT), 2.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists.

CONNECTION: Suns head coach Monty Williams was an assistant coach for the Trail Blazers from 2005-2010.

CONNECTION: Portland forward Marquese Chriss played his first two seasons for Phoenix, averaging 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 154 games (124 starts).

CONNECTION: Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard won a gold medal at the 2021 Olympics with Phoenix guard Devin Booker and Phoenix center JaVale McGee as teammates.

PRESEASON NEWS AND NOTES

LEADING THE WAY: The Trail Blazers hired Chauncey Billups as the 15th head coach in franchise history on June 27, 2021. Billups is making his debut as a head coach in the 2021-22 season. He spent the 2020-21 season as an assistant coach for the LA Clippers, helping lead the team to a 47-25 record and a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

BACKCOURT BUCKETS: Anfernee Simons scored 24 points (8-20 FG, 1-9 3-PT, 7-7 FT) against the Kings on Oct. 11. He has topped 24 points three times in a regular season game in his career. His career high for free throws is four (seven times). Off the bench, Dennis Smith Jr. pitched in 18 points and seven assists in 26 minutes.

CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE: Damian Lillard scored 19 points (6-8 FG, 5-7 3-PT, 2-2 FT) against the Warriors in Portland's first preseason game on Oct. 4. Lillard is one of two players (L. James) who has averaged at least 25.0 points in each of the last six seasons.

DISRUPTIVE FRONTCOURT: Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic are two of the five NBA players that have averaged at least 1.00 steal and 1.00 block in each of the last two seasons. Covington is one of three players (A. Davis/A. Drummond) that have done so each of the past three seasons. Joining the Portland pair this season is forward Larry Nance Jr., who has averaged at least 1.00 steal in each of the last five seasons.

RIGHT BACK AT IT: Damian Lillard (19 points, 5-7 3-PT), CJ McCollum (12 points, 2-4 3-PT) and Norman Powell (13 points, 2-5 3-PT) each played 18 minutes or less against Golden State on Oct. 4, but were back in their 2020-21 form. The trio are three of the 12 players that averaged at least 18.0 points and 2.5 three-pointers in 2020-21 while shooting better than 39.0% from the three-point-line.

MANNING THE MIDDLE: Jusuf Nurkic logged a double-double of 15 points (5-8 FG, 2-4 3-PT, 3-4 FT) and 10 rebounds to go with four assists against the Warriors on Oct. 11. His two three-pointers were the most he has made in a game in his career (preseason, regular season and postseason).

PREVIOUS GAMES

Preseason Game #2 - Sacramento 107, Portland 93 — October 11, 2021, Moda Center, Portland

The Trail Blazers lost their second consecutive preseason game, 107-93, to Sacramento at Moda Center ... Portland was without eight rotation players ... Anfernee Simons led the way for Portland in his first start of the preseason, finishing with 24 points (8-20 FG, 1-9 3-PT, 7-7 FT), two rebounds, one assist and one block ... Dennis Smith Jr. came off the bench to add 18 points (7-9 FG, 2-3 3-PT, 2-3 FT), two rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes ... Marquese Chriss added 10 points and four rebounds ... Greg Brown III led the Trail Blazers with nine rebounds while scoring six points in 20 minutes ... Jusuf Nurkic had five points, eight rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes of action ... Sacramento was led by Davion Mitchell, who finished with 20 points (7-12 FG, 6-9 3-PT), two rebounds and four assists ... Portland turned the ball over 27 times to Sacramento's 13 turnovers.

Preseason Game #1 - Golden State 121, Portland 107 — October 4, 2021, Moda Center, Portland

The Trail Blazers dropped their first game of the 2021 Preseason, 121-107, to Golden State at Moda Center ... Damian Lillard led the way for Portland in 18 first half minutes, finishing with 19 points (6-8 FG, 5-7 3-PT, 2-2 FT), four rebounds and two assists ... Jusuf Nurkic logged a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists and one steal ... Nurkic connected on two three-pointers (of four) ... Anfernee Simons had 10 points and six assists with no turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench ... Norman Powell scored 13 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3-PT, 1-1 FT) to go with one rebound, one assist and one steal ... CJ McCollum had 12 points in 12 minutes ... Jordan Poole led the way for the Warriors, scoring 30 points (10- 17 FG, 7-13 3-PT, 3-3 FT) to go with five rebounds and five assists ... Stephen Curry had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes.

INJURY NOTES

Damian Lillard is available, CJ McCollum (right ankle sprain), Ben McLemore (left ankle sprain) and Norman Powell I(right hip strain) are probable, Anfernee Simons (right thumb strain) is questionable and Nassir Little (left hamstring strain), Tony Snell (right foot sprain) and Cody Zeller (nose fracture) are out for Wednesday’s game in Phoenix.

For the Suns, Dario Saric (right knee rehab) is out.

BROADCAST NOTES

Wednesday’s game can be seen locally on ROOT Sports with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam calling the action. On the radio side, Travis Demers and Michael Holton will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Deschutes Brewery Trail Blazers Radio Network.

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