Portland Trail Blazers wing Rodney Hood scored 25 points off the bench on Thursday night, which helped force Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets.
After six games in this series, the 26-year-old is scoring 16.2 points per game with a 73.8 percent true shooting percentage against the Denver Nuggets.
His size has been a key factor for his success, as he’s impressively using his tall 6-foot-7 frame against smaller guards like 6-foot-4 Jamal Murray since Denver’s bigger players are trying to account for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He spoke about this after the Game 6 victory (via NBC Sports):
“This series I got a matchup that I like. I’m real aggressive trying to pick spots I like – take some pressure off Dame and CJ. It’s working out right now. We’ve got one more game to get to the Western Conference Finals. We’ve got to keep trying to exploit everything.”
According to NBA.com, Murray has guarded Hood for 68 possessions during the postseason. Hood is shooting 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) during that time and has scored 20 points while recording two assists and just one turnover.
A big portion of the scoring has come from Hood posting up on Murray, who has struggled to contain him in the mismatch. He has recorded an and-one on 18.2 percent of these plays, the highest frequency of anyone in the postseason who has posted up at least 10 times.
Overall, Hood has averaged 1.36 points per possession when posting up in the postseason. This has been the best mark among all playoff players who have recorded at least 10 opportunities on this play type.
The wing is 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) on post-ups during the playoffs, the most accurate mark among players who have finished more than six plays in this action.
Three of the instances have occurred when Hood has been guarded by Murray, who has allowed 18 points against post-ups during the playoffs. That’s ahead of just two players (Enes Kanter and Nikola Jokic) since the postseason began, despite primarily guarding smaller players.
This has been a legitimate weakness for Murray, who surrendered 1.06 points per possession on post-ups during the regular season. That ranked 95th out of the 109 players who had at least 60 defensive opportunities against this play, via Synergy Sports.
Hood, meanwhile, has also recorded three passes out of post-ups for Portland and two of them have led to buckets, including a huge three-pointer from big man Meyers Leonard against the Nuggets.
But as noted by Nate Mann, his post play has not just been efficient against Murray (via SB Nation):
“Hood didn’t seem to care which Nuggets defender he posted up on. He backed down Torrey Craig and Will Barton en route to easy finishes at the rim or fouls throughout the game. His hot hand then encouraged Denver’s big men to double-team in the post or come out on screens, which freed the lane for other Blazers to score. The easy looks produced by Hood’s shooting helped Portland continue scoring when the Nuggets made a final push late in the fourth quarter.”
Denver will need to account for how effective Hood has been against Murray, which could continue to open up the floor for Lillard and McCollum in Game 7 as well.