The dust has settled a bit in the early NBA season and NBA fans are starting to get a good feel of what this season is about. Hopefully for Blazer fans, this week was not a good indication of what we can expect moving forward from the Blazers. Portland went 0-4 since the last time this segment was posted, and the injury news has not been on the Blazers side either. Now, not all is lost on the week, as Portland fans witnessed the greatest offensive explosion for an individual player in Blazers history, so there are positives to focus on. But first, the games.
Saturday 11/02 - Home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, 129-128 (3-3)
The Blazers had the then undefeated 76ers at home while they were missing their All-NBA center Joel Embiid due to a league suspension. Portland led by as many as 21 points, but two free throws from Ben Simmons gave Philly their first lead of the game with 10 seconds remaining. A three in the corner by Blazer rookie beast Anfernee Simons should have sealed the victory, but you can never count out Furkan Korkmaz who hit a buzzer-beating three to win it for the 76ers. Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 33 points.
Monday 11/04 - Loss at the Golden State Warriors 127-118 (3-4)
Some things never change, like the Warriors getting the best of the Blazers. But not the usual suspects in this beating as it was Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman that led the charge for the Warriors who were without 4 All-Stars. Dame again led the Blazers with 39 points.
Thursday 11/07 - Loss at the Los Angeles Clippers, 107-101 (3-5)
Portland contained the Clippers for most of the game, but when the Clippers Kawhi Leonard decided it was time to win, Portland had absolutely no one to stop him. Leonard scored 18 in the fourth quarter and snatched the win. Anfernee Simons did his part to hold together a rough offensive outing for the Blazers with 17 points off the bench.
Friday 11/08 - Home loss vs the Brooklyn Nets, 119-115 (3-6)
Damian Lillard clearly wanted the 3 game losing streak to end, but not even the greatest offensive game in Portland Trail Blazers history could snap the skid. Lillard scored 60 (not a typo) points against the Nets. He was 17-33 from the field, 7-16 from three and 15-15 from the line. He was unstoppable and great offensively in every facet of the game. He even added five assists. The rest of the Blazer roster were less than underwhelming and managed to squander the highest scoring outing in Blazer history.
Lillard For MVP
This is the best version of Damian Lillard that we have ever seen. His 60 point barrage was spectacular and even in a loss, he produced a historic night to remember. His playmaking, even with an unsupportive supporting cast, is at its highest level so far: shooting, drawing fouls, finishing—he is certainly playing as well as anyone else in the NBA this year. This week was another 38.5 average over four games.
But the rest of the team?
Struggling. Anfernee Simons has emerged as a legitimate and lethal threat already, and he is only going to get better. But the rest of the Blazer roster has not done well. CJ McCollum shot 38% over the week, in line with his season average, and no one else has picked up any of the burden. Against the Nets, Dame was 19-33 (57.5%) with 60 points while the rest of the team finished 21-64 (32.8%) with 55 points. It’s safe to say that is not a recipe for more wins.
Bad news became worse when Zach Collins recovery was determined to take “months not weeks.” It is especially bad because Portland could use some frontcourt help. Hassan Whiteside, Rodney Hood, and Skal Labissiere all missed time with injuries this week. That doesn't even include the on going wait for injured big man, Jusuf Nurkic.
0-4. That sums it up right there. This roster is flawed and injuries haven’t helped, but the roster is still better than a team like the Golden State Warriors or even the Nets. They should have won those games. I don’t know how much more Damian Lillard can do to help the team win. Someone else has to be a difference maker on the court, offensively or defensively. CJ, now would be a good time to pick it up.
Sunday 11/10 home vs Atlanta Hawks
Tuesday 11/12 at Sacramento Kings
Wednesday 11/13 home vs Toronto Raptors
Saturday 11/16 at San Antonio Spurs
Games against the Hawks and Kings are two very good opportunities to break the losing streak and get winning ways figured out. The Kings are the only team Portland has beaten this year by more than three points. Here’s to having a successful and healthy week!