Ask most fans and pundits what the keys to the Blazer resurgence are and you'll likely hear teamwork and shooting. Fair enough, but what about the defense? One measure of defense is "points per shot" allowed. This is a measure of straight up D; i.e. how easily teams score when they don't turn it over. Amazingly, the Blazers are 2nd to Boston in this category. What makes this even more remarkable is that opponents are relatively free of pressure (we're last in steals by a large margin) and don't have to concentrate on offensive rebounding (we're bad on the defensive glass). Portland plays a relatively small team that doesn't bang.
Watching the Blazers, they don't have the "look" of a great defensive team. Some of this is attributable to Nate's "stay at home" philosophy, which doesn't generate turnovers from the opposition. Hard to argue with the effectiveness, despite the lack of fastbreak points. Those who advocate a pressure defense should realize the strong position we'd be giving up.
I'll confess, I can't figure out how a young, small team of shooters can be effective at forcing teams to be so incredibly inefficient with their possessions. Does anyone with more knowledge have a theory on this?