Two pretty brutal losses in a row have shown our beloved Blazers a few things they need to work on. Perimeter defense, shot selection, and play execution come to mind. I think that Oden's absence has hurt (especially in the Houston game), not so much because he would have contributed key stats to win these games, but the second unit is playing horribly without Joel as their anchor.
We also have to admit that we are terrible when it comes to winning key road games against the top-tier teams in the west. Of the western playoff contenders we have the worst road record and overall record against other WC teams. Though this is not at all where we want to be, it really seems about right, given the overall experience of each of those teams, and the combined experience of those teams key players.
And, of course, we are going to see a lot of anger on these boards directed at Nate's game plan, and our inability to stop Tony Parker last night, or defend the perimeter either night. A lot of this frustration is justified, but before we expect too much of these guys in hostile arenas against savvy vets who know how to frustrate and get to the line, it's important to remember their age (despite their salaries) and what our true expectations were heading into this campaign.
The obvious good news is that unless we fail to win a single road game in these crucial final weeks of the season, we will likely see improvement. Nate cannot teach confidence, and he can't teach maturity. Those things come from going to war with the galactically frustrating San Antonio Spurs, and the defensively menacing Rockets and getting our butts kicked a few times.
Questioning the coach and his rotation is natural, but remember that he and these players have brought us to a favorable position in the playoff race, in a year that many of us perhaps expected to have to fight our way up from the 9 or 10 seed. This is the best time of year to be an NBA fan, and watching these guys fight for a playoff berth will be a ton of fun, if we let it. if these guys deliver the world, it will be a rush, but if it takes them a few years, it will be worth the wait.