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2018 NBA Playoffs: Position-By-Position Breakdown Of Portland Trail Blazers-New Orleans Pelicans

Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

2018 NBA Playoffs Positional Preview

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The Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans meet in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Point Guard - Rajon Rondo is a basketball genius and an assist machine because of it. Rondo can breakdown a defense and puts his teammates in a position to succeed. Rondo also can’t make a shot outside of 10 feet. Damian Lillard is one of the best point guards in the league and a game changer offensively. When those three balls are dropping and the confidence is flowing, it’s night night. 

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2018 NBA Playoffs: Position-By-Position Breakdown Of Portland Trail Blazers-New Orleans Pelicans

USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Trail Blazers 

Shooting Guard - Jrue Holiday is one of the more underrated players in the league, and he’s been able to thrive playing off the ball, as he’s having one of his best seasons. Holiday will hold his own in this series, but he’s not C.J. McCollum, who just like Lillard, can simply go out there and drop 40 when needed. There’s something about guys in the playoffs who you can ask to go off a single night and they get the job done. Portland has two of those players.

Advantage: Trail Blazers

Small Forward - Evan Turner is stealing money from the Portland Trail Blazers, as he’s an average player who doesn’t do anything great. Turner makes hustle plays and plays hard, but no coach in the league is losing sleep trying to figure out how to slow him down. E'Twaun Moore is enjoying his first double-digit scoring season and is shooting 42.5 percent from three. Moore is key if the Pelicans are going to steal this series.  

Advantage: Pelicans

Center - Emeka Okafor is a throwaway player who is now the starter due to the DeMarcus Cousins injury. Okafor isn’t anything special at 35 years old, but he’s doing his job as long as he’s not impacting the game negatively. Clean the glass, make chip shots and kick the ball back out. Jusuf Nurkic is a difference maker at center, as he can make mid range shots, knocks down free throws and is averaging nine rebounds. Nurkic should have little trouble eating in this series.

Advantage: Trail Blazers 

Power Forward - Al-Farouq Aminu rebounds well for his position and is shooting a career high 36.9 percent from three this season. Portland is a different team when Aminu is making those outside shots and taking pressure off the back court. But he’s no Anthony Davis, a top-five player in the world and a guy who has simply taken over the second half of the season. In six games in April, Davis is shooting 50.4 percent from the field, while averaging 28.3 points and 11.2 rebounds. Don’t let him get hot. 

Advantage: Pelicans

Bench - The Pelicans have played a ton of players this season, but their key bench consists of Nikola Mirotic, Ian Clark and Darius Miller. All three of those guys have shown the ability to put the ball in the hoop while getting their teammates involved. There’s a reason why the Pelicans have topped 100 points in their last eight games. For the Trail Blazers, Shabazz Napier has found a clear home in Portland, as he’s become a solid backup PG who even finishes games at times. Pat Connaughton is capable of knocking down the three ball and Ed Davis is a physical power forward who usually dominates the glass for the minutes he gets. Maurice Harkless has also become a more consistent scorer, shooting over 40 percent from three. 

Advantage: Trial Blazers 

Coach - Alvin Gentry has showing what he’s capable of as an offensive coach, as he has this team clicking despite being without one of their players. However, there is something to say about this being just his third playoff appearance in 12 full seasons of coaching. Terry Stotts is now in the playoffs for a fifth straight season and has helped Portland go from being a decent team in the West to having some people considering them a true contender. However, Stotts has to at least win a playoff series, as three of his previous five playoff trips have ended in the first round. Still, he’s proven more as a head coach than Gentry. 

Advantage: Trial Blazers

Overall - Trail Blazers in 6 (There’s sure to be a lot of scoring in this series, but the Trail Blazers are the deeper squad and have one of the top back courts in the league who is eager to make some true playoff noise. Playoff AD may be even scarier than regular season AD, but the lack of consistent depth can hurt this time of year. You really trust many guys in New Orleans outside of Davis? Me neither.)

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