Former NBA players Baron Davis, Rick Fox and Shaquille O'Neal discussed the Portland Trail Blazers' recent struggles on TNT following Tuesday night's action.
After a loss to the Orlando Magic, Portland fell to just a half-game up on the Golden State Warriors for the West's No. 5 and just 2.5 games up on the Phoenix Suns, who are currently the No. 9 seed.
Davis opined: "The ship be sinkin'. The ship be sinkin'. They're just not playing [as they were]. When you have someone like [LaMarcus] Aldridge hurt that's really going to hurt your team. They are falling in the standings and they are falling fast. ... If you don't have that closer, it's going to be hard to get in those playoffs in those last 10 games of the season. "
Fox added: "They stretched themselves pretty thin in the start of the season. ... They played heavy minutes out of those starters, now they run into some injuries. ... If they slide two positions or more, they are going to be faced with an OKC team. ... This could disrupt a lot in the Western Conference."
O'Neal said: "Rick and I used to hear this from the great Phil Jackson all the time, it doesn't matter how you start, it matters how you finish. ... A lot of teams, they start off great, we see this every year. ... They were playing so well, I asked the question if they could maintain it. ... I knew this would kinda happen. This is the time with 10 or 11 games [left] to pick it back up. You don't want to slide to No. 7 or No. 8 and face them Spurs, who I think is going to win the NBA championship, or OKC in the first round."
Aldridge, who is sidelined with a back injury, is hoping to return to the court on Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter