By all accounts, the Portland Trail Blazers did not have an ideal week. On the heels of a three-game losing streak, only partially salvaged by a 129-109 win at Brooklyn on Sunday, the Blazers fell across the board in the NBA power rankings.
This week’s version of the rankings, selected from assorted outlets, have Portland right about in the middle of the pack, and all had them drop at least two slots.
As expected, most cite defense as an overwhelming factor for the dip in favorability.
At 8-7 on the season, the Blazers managed to stay above .500 despite a subpar seven days. They visit Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks on Tuesday, before finishing out their five-game road trip on Wednesday against the defending champs in Cleveland.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: No. 14 (Down 4)
The Blazers are up to 4-0 now when C.J. McCollum scores 30+ points after Sunday's rout of the Nets, but their brilliant backcourt can't cover up all the problems that have cropped up on the boards and on D. Portland awoke Monday ranked 29th in rebound rate and a sobering 30th in defensive efficiency, backing up Damian Lillard's "we kind of suck right now" assertion. The Blazers, furthermore, can only claim one win over a team with a winning record (Memphis) at this stage.
Matt Moore, CBSSports.com: No 16 (Down 3)
The win over Brooklyn Sunday shouldn't take the stink off how bad this team has been lately. They really are just CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard and ... that's pretty much it right now.
Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk: No. 13 (Down 3)
They have the worst defense in the NBA this season, giving up 108.5 points per 100 possessions this season (the loss of Al-Farouq Aminu is part of the problem). All of that is why there will be more of things like the recent three-game losing streak, it’s hard to get consistent wins without defense — the offense can only bail you out so much. How many wins can they get out of a week with the improving Knicks and Pelicans, plus the Cavaliers and Rockets on the schedule?
Jeremy Woo, SI.com: No. 12 (Down 2)
“We kind of suck right now.” — Damian Lillard.
USA Today Sports: No. 14 (Down 3)
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. 14 (Down 4)
After allowing 117 points per 100 possessions over a three-game losing streak (and trailing all three games by 20-plus points), the Blazers were happy to meet a defense as bad as theirs in Brooklyn on Sunday. They clearly miss Al-Farouq Aminu (who has missed the last seven games with a calf injury) and haven't found a forward combination that doesn't include him and can defend competently. And with Damian Lillard shooting 36 percent over the four games prior to Sunday's win, their offense wasn't been able to keep up.
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