The Portland Trail Blazers entered the season’s third week on a low note, having lost to the Wizards and Heat last week, while beating the Magic, thanks to one Damian Lillard. They started off this week with a bang, defeating the Pacers last night in the penultimate game of the year’s first road trip. They also enter the week still riding high in the eyes of national sportswriters, cracking the top 10 in both ESPN and CBS Sports’ NBA power rankings, while sitting just outside that mark in the eyes of Sports Illustrated.
ESPN ranked the team ninth, the same spot as last week. Marc J. Spears is undeterred by the losses, praising Lillard’s hot start while also looking forward to the continued improvement of Zach Collins:
Damian Lillard has been blazing so far. The star guard is averaging a well-rounded 33.8 points, 6.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game this year. Keep an eye on Zach Collins, who has been playing well in his second season
CBS Sports is also high on Rip City, weighing in the Blazers at the tenth spot, two up from last week. Reid Forgrave is already putting Lillard in the MVP discussion:
The Blazers have the NBA’s third-most efficient offense. Damian Lillard has picked up this season where he left off in the second half of last season: as one of the frontrunners in the MVP race. He’s leading the NBA in points per game (33.8). Of course, the way that Lillard wins an MVP isn’t by putting up bonkers statistics. It’s by the Blazers staying in the mix at the top of the Western Conference.
Sports Illustrated pegs the team 12th, down four spots from a week ago. Khadrice Rollins is pining for another dose of Lillard Time:
I was waiting for that moment when Dame starts tapping his left wrist to remind everybody what time it is. It never came in Monday’s overtime contest with the Wizards. His game-winning attempt got blocked by Otto Porter. It seemed like we were on the verge of that precious moment against the Heat on Saturday in Miami, but the last two minutes belonged to the Heat and Dame Time never came. I just want to see Dame end someone in the fourth quarter of a close game. Is that too much to ask?
The Blazers (4-2) finish off their roadie against the Rockets tonight, and return home to begin a six-game homestand Thursday against the Pelicans, with the Lakers and Timberwolves visiting town this weekend.