Most of the discussion around Monday night’s game against the Kings, at least among Trail Blazers fans, pertains to which players are playing when, and how much. Is Andre Miller going to start? Will Jerryd Bayless see more time? How about Dante Cunningham?
The answers to those questions will be reveled soon enough, but you might see a few things you weren’t expecting, at least if you peek at the coaches on the bench.
As you surely know, Nate McMillan sat out the last road trip as he underwent surgery and rehabilitation for a ruptured Achilles. Lead assistant coach Dean Demopoulos handled the head coaching duties in McMillan’s absence, with assistant coaches Monty Williams, Joe Prunty, Billy Bayno and Kaleb Canales taking on more responsibility as well.
“I thought they did a good job,” said McMillan of his assistants. “I don’t look at the record. The feedback I was getting from them and the mood of the team and them trying to read the team and motivate the team to be ready to play. We won one but we had a chance to win two more, but we didn’t get that. I thought they did some good things. I thought they did a good job of working together.”
The assistants were up to the challenge of guiding the team through a difficult road trip, especially when you consider they only nine players available, but all would rather have McMillan back in the driver’s seat.
And he will be tonight. Despite being in a cast and requiring the use of crutches, McMillan will return to his head coaching duties. But he saw something from his assistants in his absence, specifically from Williams, that is making him consider making some changes to the way he approaches coaching.
“At times Monty took the board and ran some offensive plays with some good calls,” said McMillan. “Liked that. I want to do more of that with him.”
We might see that tonight. Even though he’ll be back running the show, don’t be surprised to see McMillan continue to lean more heavily on his assistants as he works his way back from injury.
“I normally hear their voices,” said McMillan, “but even giving up the board some -- which I don’t do a lot of -- looking at doing that, especially in this situation now that I’m not able to get up and move around.”