The Portland Trail Blazers have come back to earth in a big way. After starting the season 10-3, they’ve lost seven of 10 games and now sit in seventh place in the Western Conference. It’s disappointing to see them plunge after such a hot start, but is this team meeting your off-season expectations?
I need to remind myself that they’re meeting mine. It’s easy to get caught up in the hot start; I did it myself. But I had this team pegged around 42 wins headed in to the season. I didn’t see enough done to address the systemic issues that have held this team back. Portland needed shooters, so they added two budget shooters in Nik Stauskas and Seth Curry. They needed to find a role for Evan Turner.
The bench has been a pleasant surprise, for the most part. Certainly better than I expected. Stauskas and Curry have been solid, even if their limitations are exposed the further we get into the season. Evan Turner has done well as the primary bench ball handler. Meyers Leonard has turned himself into a rotation player. Zach Collins started off the season on fire.
But there are clearly holes in this team. I said just a few weeks ago that this team was playing as though it was built for the playoffs; and at the time they were. Unfortunately, the team’s defense has fallen off the rails over the last two weeks. The starting forwards are still maddeningly inconsistent.
All that being said, my preseason expectations are being met. The team is just above .500; they’ve beaten some good teams, they’ve lost to some poor ones. I still desperately want a 3 and D wing to pair along with CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. There’s still a lot of time for the Blazers to figure out their defense. Damian Lillard could go nuclear again for a month like he did last season. Maybe Moe Harkless will find his legs. It’s a long season and there are ebbs and flows.
This current slump is a good reminder to not get too caught up when things are going well. It’s just as important to not get too down on when they go through a rough patch like the one they’re currently mired in. The team has talent, but the margin of error to maintain their season opening pace is too thin to keep it up over the long term. That’s exactly why I had them at 42 wins in the first place.
It can be easy to fall in love with your team. They give us our escape, we root for them, we ride the highs and wallow in the lows. I know the Blazers feel like a disappointment right now; because they’re playing like one. But if you go back to August and pretend that we haven’t seen a minute of Blazers basketball yet this season, wouldn’t a 13-10 record be about what you expected? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!