Another day, another winless week for the Portland Trail Blazers. And another week ending with a key injury, with big man Skal Labissiere’s MRI on his left knee Sunday coming back inconclusive but still costing him the next few games. Where does all of this put Blazers in the eyes of most outlets?
ESPN’s Royce Young dropped the Blazers to 17th, writing that the Blazers failing to pick up a victory this week after a hot streak last week is a microcosm of what this whole season has been.
A four-game winning streak gets replaced by a three-game losing streak last week, summing up much of the season for the Blazers. But it could turn again for them, with winnable games ahead this week against the Suns, Knicks and Wizards. The games lost to injury for Portland is the primary culprit for its consistency issues. Also, the Blazers aren’t as good defensively this season (they were pretty average anyway last season) and they have taken a considerable step back offensively. If it’s going to turn around, Damian Lillard might need to summon the playoff version of himself for the next, say, 49 games.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro had Portland slightly higher at 15th. He focused specifically on Carmelo Anthony’s impact, specifically the ups and downs of his game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday.
Carmelo Anthony has been solid with the Blazers through 17 games, averaging 16.2 points and 39.7% from three. But Thursday’s loss to the Jazz was undoubtedly frustrating. Damian Lillard led Portland with 34 points on the evening, only to see Portland’s pivotal last-minute possession go to Anthony. The 10-time All-Star isolated against former Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, then had his shot blocked as the Jazz regained possession. The worst of Anthony emerged late in Utah
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report put the Blazers 18th, citing the loss of Labissiere as yet another reason that Portland will continue to struggle against good teams.
Add Skal Labissiere to the list of injured Blazers big men who’ve now left the team with just one healthy player taller than 6’8”: Hassan Whiteside.
Labissiere started but played fewer than three minutes before going down with a knee injury in Saturday’s 128-120 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Blazers’ third consecutive defeat in a rough week that dropped them to 14-19 overall.
Anfernee Simons has looked more comfortable lately, and at least Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are still standing upright. But with the Blazers losing big bodies from a rotation that already struggled to rebound and protect the rim, it’s difficult to be optimistic about their chances of competing with the league’s better teams.
To date, Portland is just 3-13 against opponents with winning records.
Colin Ward-Henniger of CBS Sports knocked the Blazers down five spots to 20th for squandering an opportunity for a five-game winning streak with a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. He also made note of Portland’s bad defense and Anfernee Simons’s otherwise stellar week.
The Trail Blazers missed a chance to run their win streak to five games by losing to the Pelicans on Monday, then followed that up with losses to the Jazz and Lakers. Anfernee Simons, who came into the season with quite a bit of hype, has played better of late, averaging 12.3 points on 40 percent 3-point shooting over the last three games. Portland’s defense has been a problem all season, and it had trouble getting stops again this week.