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Trail Blazers Must Focus on Defense to Improve

Jeff Caplan of emphasizes defense as the key to improvement in an extensive preview of the Portland Trail Blazers 2014-15 season.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Caplan of released an extensive season preview for the Portland Trail Blazers this weekend. His recurring theme: defense will determine Portland's status in the coming year, demarcating the line between contender and also-ran.

[Head Coach Terry] Stotts' team only needs to look at the team ahead of it in the division standings to understand the importance of continuing to become a tighter defensive unit.

Stotts said he is paying particular attention to transition defense and weak-side help defense and overall alertness on the weak side.

Stotts believes [Damian] Lillard will evolve into a better defender on the pick-and-roll this season and he sees LaMarcus Aldridge, capitalizing on his athleticism and length, as capable of continuing to make strides on the defensive end.

In addition to the defensive chatter, Caplan cites Steve Blake as a "savvy" off-season pick-up and CJ McCollum as an instant offense player off the bench.

One doesn't expect a national preview to break new ground but Caplan does a credible job summarizing the team's hopes for growth. Notably absent: any intimation that the Blazers might slide backwards this year.

Read the entire preview here.

--Dave / @DaveDeckard @Blazersedge