Aside from Bill Simmons, I don't think many of us Blazer fan's thought the team would even sniff .500 much less make the playoffs. I personally had them maxing out at 31-32 wins, with the likely result being in the 25-28 range. I just didn't think we were deep enough and didn't think our starters could hang with most teams.
But for myself, this has changed. I got the minimum amount of wins now at 35 and I think 41 is attainable. I do not think this gets us a playoff birth, but a much better year than previously thought and a scenario where we won't be upset with a high lottery pick.
A lot of vets are still shaking off the rust, so we won't know much for another month or so. Having said that, Batum and Matthews are standing out to me as much as 'Dame Tha Kid. Meyers is going to go through waves all season, some tidals and some kiddie pools. He'll have a lot of games like last night where his numbers should give him some confidence, yet he gets absolutely torched by a veteran center. But there really aren't many reliable centers in the league, and Meyers is going to have some big games soon enough and I think by seasons end, he will be licking his chops and destroying 2nd unit centers. Freeland played really well last night, his hustle stands out and I hope that within the next month he will supplant Jeffries spot, Freeland needs atleast 15-20 mins a game. (Btw, anyone catch Dirk's smiling gesture when Joel hit his first J...the Euro's know when they see one)
Obviously this team is going to go where Dame and LMA take us, even this year. I don't expect Dame to figure out how to guard NBA point guards this season, and that probably won't come for another few years. Collison and Westbrook were moving wherever they wanted to go and I think he is going to get burned a lot this season, which is ok. He might even have multiple stretches of 3 or 4 bad games, its good for him. Watching these first 4 games, its clear that he is already "here" and that is the most important thing. LaMarcus is just a monster and I see this year as a fine-tuning of his game as he really solidifies he A level status (and in my twisted warped NBA world, there are only about 7 or 8 A+ players). And aside from one and a half bad games, Nicolas has shown a new side of himself. I think this is the first sason where he simply knows that he doen't have to score to hugely affect the game and these rundown blocks on fastbreaks are becomming a beautiful thing to watch and to lean on.
All in all, a highly impressive first 4 games and as thin as the defense has been, 61% shooting will still be a rarity for most home teams.
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