2. Role players coming through
When a team struggles during a playoff series, the common complaint is that the star of said team isn’t getting help from their supporting cast. It’s something that even the Trail Blazers have dealt with on select nights of this playoff run. However, that certainly wasn’t the case on Saturday night.
The role players were led by Meyers Leonard’s 16 points in his spot start at center. He went 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, dished out four assists and grabbed three rebounds. His athleticism and attentiveness allowed him to handle the Warriors’ vaunted pick-and-roll attack. That was key to keeping the Warriors at bay for as long as Portland did.
Leonard has been much-maligned for most of his career due to his draft position (No. 11 overall in 2012) and size of his four-year $41 million contract in relation to his career production. However, he has been one of the few bright spots for the Blazers in this series.
Evan Turner also had another solid game, scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He even made his first 3-pointer of the postseason! His playoff experience, defense and playmaking have made him a steady presence in the second unit.
Enes Kanter even made the most of his reduced role, scoring seven points in the seven minutes he played. Zach Collins (six points, eight rebounds), Al-Farouq Aminu (seven rebounds, +5 plus/minus) and Maurice Harkless (six points, three rebounds, two steals, two blocks) also had decent games.
The Trail Blazers’ playoff run has been a team effort, with the dynamic backcourt leading the way and the role players at the ready to contribute when needed. In Game 3, the role players still did their best to deliver, but the lack of star power was very apparent.