Portland Trail Blazers
The 2019-2020 NBA season has been a bit of a nightmare for the Portland Trail Blazers so far. After making the western conference finals last May, expectations for this season were high. But a pair of devastating early-season injuries to starters Rodney Hood and Zach Collins along with the continued absence of Jusuf Nurkic left Portland in a tough spot. When the NBA suspended the rest of the season, Portland’s record sat at just 29-37, 3.5 games behind Memphis for the last spot in the playoffs.
But the NBA suspension has been a blessing in disguise for Portland. Both Nurkic and Collins will be back and playing if/when the season resumes, giving Portland frontcourt depth that they’ve desperately needed this season. The suspension also gives star player Damian Lillard time to rest and recover after a groin strain that saw him miss the NBA All-Star Game in early March. Lillard has led the league in total minutes so far and this time off will allow him to come back at a full one hundred percent. Expect Portland to look like a better and more cohesive team when the season resumes.
Indiana was looking really good before the season was suspended. They won seven of their last ten games, including an impressive win in Dallas over Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on March 8. What is most intriguing is that they went on this strong run of form besides the fact that multi-time all-star Victor Oladipo played very poorly coming off his return from injury. Oladipo averaged just 13 points a night on 38 percent shooting but even still the Pacers were able to win games thanks to a well-balanced offense and strong defensive play.
This hiatus gives Indiana some time to brainstorm on how Oladipo can fit back into their offensive scheme more effectively. With Malcolm Brogdon now serving as Indiana’s primary ball-handler, Oladipo will have to adapt to a more pure scoring role. And if Oladipo can fit himself into that role or another beneficial one by the time the season resumes Indiana will have a good chance of continuing their good run of form.
Whether Brooklyn will truly benefit or not from the suspension relies on one giant what if. That being, what if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are healthy enough to play once the season resumes?
Brooklyn currently occupies the seventh playoff spot in the eastern conference and looks to be heading for the postseason no matter if the two superstars return. But whether the Nets are an actual threat in the playoffs entirely depends on the health status of Irving and Durant. While Brooklyn does have a nice core of dependable young players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, it is not a group of players that exactly incite fear in one of the east’s top teams. Add Durant and Irving to the mix and suddenly the Nets become a terrifying first-round playoff matchup for any team.
If Brooklyn can get one, or even both, of Durant and Irving back later this season it could have massive implications on the eastern conference playoffs and gives Brooklyn huge upset potential versus whatever unlucky team they face.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference
Thanks for reading about teams that will benefit from the NBA suspension! You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from great TGH writers like Spencer!
‘From our Haus to yours’