The team huddled up today at the Cox Pavilion to do a short walk through in preparation for tonight's game against the Kings. Assistant coach Monty Williams (who is head coach Monty Williams here in Las Vegas) told the players that in an effort to get acclimated to the rigors of back-to-backs in the NBA, the practice would be similar to what they would see during the regular season. If the Blazers hold practice on the second night of a back-to-back, it's usually a short teaching session with an emphasis of rectifying the mistakes from the night before. In that respect, Summer League is all about teaching players the routines and common practices of life in the NBA. The games, while important, are almost secondary.
But back to practice. I noticed that Monty Williams and Jerryd Bayless talked for a few minutes at halfcourt before the start of practice. I asked Bayless what they talked about, but he declined to impart any particulars of the conversation. If I had to guess, I would venture that Coach Williams was congratulating Bayless on his performance while pointing out a few things, specifically while running the point, that he could have done differently.
After that, the team huddled up for a bit while Williams talked about the performances in the game the night before. He specifically told Chris Ellis and Josh Davis the screens they set against the Wizards were fine, regardless of whether or not the referees called.
Most of the instructional period of the practice focused on stressing timing coming off screens. Bayless, Koponen and Batum seemed to be the main targets of said instruction.
After Coach Williams walked the team through a few more basic offensive sets, Coach Joe Prunty stepped in to run the team through what they could expect tonight from the Sacramento Kings, from basic player tendencies to generic offensive themes. Paying attention to Spencer Hawes was basically the gist. Prunty noted numerous times that Hawes would be aggressive on offense from the get-go, noting his ability to score inside and out. It was enough information to help, but not so much that anyone would be able to soak it up in a short period of time.
Completing the coaching trifecta, Coach Dean Demopolis gave a fast and furious tutorial on his specialty, the zone defense. The team hasn't had a whole lot of time to practice switching into the zone, but everyone seemed to have a decent idea of where they were supposed to be. Nic Batum especially had a strong sense of where and when he was supposed to go in both the 2-3 and 3-2 zones.
Speaking of Batum, I spoke with Blazers' assistant trainer Geoff Clark after practice, and he said Batum is good to go for tonight's game. Batum didn't seem to be hindered after taking a shot from Vlad Veremeenko during yesterday's game.