NBA Power Rankings pundits are smiling on the Portland Trail Blazers in Week 2 of the 2016-17 regular season. After breaking the NBA record for the largest opening night win against the Phoenix Suns, Portland followed up against the Indiana Pacers before Giannis Antetokounmpo stole (literally) the chance for a 3-0 roadtrip in Milwaukee on Saturday.
Before the Blazers turn their attention to the Pelicans, the Clippers and the Suns – who may be without Eric Bledsoe by the time their game on Saturday arrives – we look at their rankings in the NBA landscape...
ESPN’s panel of experts ranks the Blazers No. 12, up from 14 last week:
Which team had the largest point differential through the first two games of a season in NBA history? That would be these Trail Blazers, who outscored their first two opponents by a combined 66 points. Granted, their historic, 48-point win on opening night over the Suns gave that a boost. Portland could be 3-0 if it hadn't run into Antetokounmpo playing the best game of his career.
Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated puts the Blazers at No. 13, up from 14 last week as well:
Portland currently ranks in the top three in net rating, but they’ve beaten up on the Pacers and Suns to get there. They certainly impressed against the Bucks, but I’m not quite sure they’re on that level yet. Side note: Is Meyers Leonard not a thing anymore? Two straight games with a DNP-CD. We need to get him back in the lineup for his annual battle with DeMarcus Cousins.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com has the Blazers at No. 13, the same as last week:
The Blazers lost just one of the 12 quarters they played last week, but that was good for just a 2-1 record, because Antetokounmpo shut them down in the final minute on Saturday. The opposition in the first two games -- the disinterested Suns and the Myles Turner-less Pacers -- was weak, but you take road wins any way you can get them. The Blazers have dominated the glass (leading the league in rebounding percentage) and C.J. McCollum has shot 58 percent, even though he didn't get to play against that atrocious Phoenix defense on Wednesday.
Schuman also recognized Evan Turner as his “plus-minus stud” (a stat critics have targeted him for) after Turner posted a plus-61 in three games in Week 1.
David Aldridge of NBA.com still has the Blazers in his Top 15 at No. 14 this week, the same as last week:
[The Blazers] are second in the league after the first week in Offensive Rating (118.6 per 100) could have easily finished 3-0 on road trip. Now Portland gets an incredible 10 of its next 11 games at Moda Center.
The Blazers kick off a long home stretch tonight against the Pelicans at 7 p.m. Pacific.