Instant Analysis: NBA MVP and company roll short-handed Trail Blazers

Jamie Hudson
NBC Sports Northwest

Portland welcomed in the best team in the league Saturday night.

The injury-riddled Trail Blazers were even more undermanned against the Milwaukee Bucks. Hassan Whiteside was ruled out about an hour prior to tip-off as he continues to deal with an upper respiratory infection. Anthony Tolliver, who stands at 6'8", got the starting nod at center.

Milwaukee jumped out to a 32-24 first quarter lead against Portland's small ball lineup. Following the first 12 minutes, the Blazers hung around with a near 10-point deficit until the fourth quarter.

Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday's loss:

1.  Where there's a Lillard there's a way

It wasn't until less than eight minutes to go in the first quarter when the Blazer made a field goal that wasn't a three-pointer. Portland's first nine points were three straight three-pointers.  Through the first quarter, the Blazers let 13 three-pointers fly. They made just four for the quarter though. 

It was clear throughout the game, Portland's game plan to keep it close against the number one team in the NBA was to take as many threes as possible.

But when the three-ball wasn't falling for Portland, it was All-Star Damian Lillard who shouldered the offense once again. Lillard had 26 points and five assists heading into the final period. 

2.  Blazers hang tough on the glass

As one would expect, the Trail Blazers had a tough time bodying up Giannis Antetokounmpo on the defensive end. Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points and 17 rebounds (16 of those were on the defensive end).  Neither The Greek Freak nor Brook Lopez or Robin Lopez took advantage of the Blazers on the offensive glass.

When the roster doesn't consist of one true center, it would be the expectation that it's going to be a long night on the boards. However, it was a by committee effort, as the Trail Blazers stood their ground and fought for rebounds.  At the break, Milwaukee was out-rebounding Portland, 31-25. Tolliver led the charge on the glass for the Blazers with seven through the first two quarters. But Carmelo Anthony also made it a point to snag rebounds. By the end of the third quarter, Melo already had 10 boards. 

3.  Hoard gets an opportunity

Kent Bazemore picked up two quick fouls and played just three minutes during his first stint. The foul trouble made way for rookie two-way forward Jaylen Hoard. The 20-year-old made the most of his minutes. He didn't shy away from contact and took it right at the Bucks. He also wasn't afraid to crash the boards. Hoard finished with six points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of work.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their quick two-game homestand Monday night against the Charlotte. The Blazers and Hornets will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

Instant Analysis: NBA MVP and company roll short-handed Trail Blazers originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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