While it has been a difficult start to the 2019-20 NBA season for the Portland Trail Blazers, the team showcased what they are capable of when playing at full strength (minus Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins) in their blowout victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night—ending a frustrating road trip on a positive note.
On this week’s edition of Blazer’s Edge Radio, hosts Ryne Buchanan and Sam Arnold feel that the win might be a precursor for things to come. Newcomer Carmelo Anthony had his best game in a Blazers uniform, and the presumed new starting lineup was finally all on the court at the same time. If they can perform together like they did against the Bulls on a consistent basis, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic for the coming weeks.
With Anthony starting—and the return of Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside—the team’s bench improves, as Nassir Little joins a re-invigorated second unit alongside Anfernee Simons, Skal Labissiere and Kent Bazemore. If the team can stay healthy, they likely will no longer have to count on significant roles from the likes of Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja, both of whom have struggled in the early going.
On top of the personnel changes, the Blazers also play 12 of their next 16 games at home, after playing 13 of their first 18 games on the road. While the team is just 1-4 at home this season, they have faced some tough competition there, including the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors—with all three games being decided by single-digits. The upcoming slate is (on paper) much easier, as many of the teams coming to town are not expected to be playoff contenders.
That being said, the team’s losses this season to the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are reminders that a favorable match-up doesn’t always work out that way. However, if the supporting cast can continue to produce, there now appears to at least be a light at the end of the tunnel as the team awaits the return of Nurkic.
Be sure to tune-in to Blazer’s Edge Radio every Tuesday from noon to 1 pm PDT. You can access the show at 107.1 FM in the Portland area or worldwide online at xray.fm.
Catch an archived version of this week’s episode here.