How can someone analyze the playoffs, and leave the Portland Trail Blazers out of the mix? It’s considerably easy to throw them under the radar, considering the fact that you have three MVP candidates in one conference, and not to mention the conference houses the best team in the league in Golden State. So what does Portland have that’ll finally push them over the hump?
When the franchise first drafted Damian Lillard, there were plenty of implications that they have a future star in the making. However, the star guard has been overlooked on numerous occasions, MVP and All-Star considerations just to name a few.
Besides the fact the Blazers have had mediocre play since the all-star break, the Trail Blazers have been efficient all season. Behind the leadership of Lillard, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Terry Stotts the team has the necessary parts can possibly land them a spot in the league’s championship series.
Throughout the season, the Trail Blazers have displayed a thirst for stopping opponents on the defensive end, and a craving for getting points on the board. This passionate play has earned the organization a fourth place spot in the conference playoff picture, and a first place lead in their respective division.
Robin Lopez’s contribution to the front line of the Blazers can also be an added piece to the team’s success. Lopez has taken a massive load off Aldridge, a load he has been carrying before the organization started to add its vital pieces. The six-year veteran forward is averaging a near double–double per contest with 9.5 points and 6.9 points per game. His average is down from a year ago, but the sub par averages are still balancing out alongside the team’s all-star forward.
What does Portland have to continue doing to make a strong push heading into the playoffs? Really, the same offensive and defensive efficiently that they have exhibited all season long.
Damian Lillard has played in all 77 games to this point of the season, averaging 21.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assist per contest, according to NBA.com. He’s been a force on the offensive end; but he’s also contributed on the defensive end has well, averaging roughly about two steals per game. The all-star guard has taken on the leadership role behind Aldridge and Stotts–a role that he has become accustomed to. The championship head coach took on the responsibility of running the offensive juggernaut in Dallas–the same Dallas team that took down the star-studded Miami Heat in 2011.
The Blazers have always been a team that has the potential to become eventual champions. But their luck has always come up short in the post-season year-after-year. Their offensive star power, scrappy defensive mind-set, and their willingness to get the job done on both ends of the floor can serve them well in the post-season.
With the playoffs rapidly approaching there is no reason to count out the Trail Blazers. In the past I’ve always dubbed them as being one player short (the same way I viewed the Clippers), however the time for them to make a run is now. By the way things are setting up in the western conference, this will be an all-out race to the finish line, and the Blazers just might be the team to come out on top.
Portland is a fast, dominant and efficient team that can handle the competition in the West. Therefore, the passionate play, willingness to score and defended, just might land them an opportunity to be crowned NBA champions.
Record: 50-27; PTS/G: 102.8(10th in NBA); OPP PTS/G: 98.0(10th in NBA); FG%: .450; FT%: .801
Wesley Matthews: Torn Achilles (Out for season)
Dorell Wright: Broken bone in left hand (Out 4-6 weeks)
Possible Playoff Starting five:
PG-Damian Lillard (PPG: 21.1; RPG: 4.7; APG: 6.2)
SG- Aaron Afflalo (PPG: 13.5; RPG: 3.2; APG: 1.7)
SF-Nicolas Batum (PPG: 9.6; RPG: 5.9; APG: 4.8)
PF-LaMarcus Aldridge (PPG: 23.4; RPG: 10.3; APG: 1.8)
C- Robin Lopez (PPG: 9.5; RPG: 6.9; APG: 0.9)
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Justin Hill