The writing is on the wall for the Portland Trail Blazers
When Groundhog Day came out in 1993, there was a feeling the film would age well, perhaps hold a decade of pop culture relevance. We quote the movie whenever we feel like we’re going through the same situation over and over again and… you get it.
One feasible way to break the cycle of monotony is to zig instead of zag. While doing something, wait until you scratch it, EVERYTHING different to get a different result.
the Portland Trail Blazers would be the stars of Groundhog Day if ever adapted into a basketball universe. Revive it perpetually with the same core of players, only to suffer a loss in five games at most. playoff time Portland has penciled in for another early exit.
The same old blazers
Old habits are dying hard in the pink city. Portland has a terrible 29e ranked defense and surrender 116 points per 100 possessions. Only the Sacramento Kings have a worse defensive rating.
You can theorize as you like as to why Portland is so bad defensively. They are an absolute elite offensive rebound team, much of it is a testament to Enes Kanter’s ability (4.1 offensive rebounds per game) to plant the offensive board and keep his possessions alive. Defensive rebounds are a major problem. In a conference where reside elite great men such as Gobert, Jokic and Davis, being the 24e The ranked defensive rebound team will continue to raise its ugly header into the playoffs.
The Blazers’ final game featured a lineup of three guards from Damian lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell. Next to Robert covington (which was not as good as advertised defensively) and Jusuf Nurkic in the 113-120 defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Blazers were passed (albeit marginally) and allowed the Grizzlies to score 50 points in paint alone. For head coach Terry Stotts, persisting with this playoff roster will be an admission that his team will try to win games simply by outdoing their opponents, rather than slowing them down.
Lady running out of battery time?
Damian Lillard is going through a difficult period in April. After receiving MVP buzz back in March, his noticeable drop in form may be linked to his latest hamstring injury. In his absence, the Trail Blazers struggled and pretty much San Antonio Spurs by a single point, before suffering back-to-back losses to the Hornets and Clippers.
Dame’s return didn’t stop the bleeding, but her shot became more erratic. Lillard hasn’t shot more than 50% from the field in 4e March – an eighteen point loss to Milwaukee. He goes to the line less often (without Memphis’ first loss on 23rd Mars) and instead be content with jump shots.
In the last three games, Dame attempted 23, 22 and 27 shots and failed to shoot 40% of the field in any of those games.
Portland needs Dame to get out of her funk and rediscover her form earlier in the season where he had the Blazers among the Western Conference’s top six seeds while McCollum and Nurkic were on the treatment table.
His performances in the clutch showed why he belongs to the group of the best players in the league. It is more than ever the moment when Lady’s time must be delivered.
Pressure on Stotts
Portland ends up in the seventh seed, one game behind the Dallas mavericks. While the Mavs have been a .500 team for the past ten games, Portland is 2-8 and their poor form got them into the play-in tournament.
Extend that to April and Portland (3-10) finds itself surrounded by the Houston rockets, Orlando Magicand kings. Players like Utah, Phoenix, Lakers and Clippers will be very confident if they come up against in Portland.
The Blazers aren’t using the ball well enough to be a credible playoff threat. They rank last dead in assist percentage at 51% and second last in total possessions.
The ‘your turn, my turn’ offense is something Terry Stotts hasn’t been able to resolve all season, and to his fortune, was bailed out by Lillard’s late-game exploits. It won’t cut him in the playoffs. We saw this last season in the first round of the playoffs when the Lakers invaded Lillard. Forcing the ball out of Lady’s hands and expecting another Blazer to make a play is something Portland will likely have to face this season.
The time for Stotts to implement more ball movements might be too late. Not just for this season, but for his time as head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.
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