Last week I complained about another winless week, so the bright side is that this week was not that. 2020 is a new year but the results, starting with a 24 point loss to the hapless New York Knicks, didn't seem to change much. In one of the year’s easiest weeks of the schedule, there was a good chance Portland was going to be able to pull a 3-0 week. Well, that didn't happen. Here’s how the week broke down.
Monday 12/30 loss at home against the Phoenix Suns 122-116 (14-24)
Up 19 after the first quarter, it looked like an easy home win against a bad team was in store. It turns out that all fans were getting sold was more heartbreak. Portland’s defense ceased to exist after that first quarter, giving up 103 points in the following 3 quarters. The offense worked, and strong offensive performances from Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent were good to see, but Portland collapsed defensively and couldn’t score enough to make up for it. Damian Lillard led the way for Portland with 33.
Wednesday 1/1 loss at New York Knicks 117-93 (14-24)
The Suns loss was tough, but this game made the Suns forgettable. Carmelo Anthony got his, scoring 26 in his first game back at MSG, but the rest of the Blazer roster struggled at pretty much everything. Lillard led that struggle by shooting 5-20 from the floor. Worth noting Mitchell Robinson, who was averaging less than 10 points per game on the season, finished 11/11 from the field with everything coming within a foot or two from the rim. Yuck.
Friday 1/3 win at Washington Wizards 122-103 (15-24)
What is it going to take for Portland to get a win? Well, Bradley Beal missed the game, as did Thomas Bryant, Davis Bertans, and Rui Hachimura, while Isiah Thomas was ejected 90 seconds into the game for shoving a ref. It turns out Portland thrives in matchups where the opposing team is missing every one of their relevant players because the Blazers took this matchup by the horns and ran away with it. A fantastic win for Portland.
Portland over the last week averaged around 42 minutes per game from players in their first or second year (Simons, Trent, Nassir Little). While that is not a lot in comparison to other teams in the league, it is the most by a Blazer team in a long time. While this season has been putrid for the most part, seeing some of the young guys play and play well, is a good consolation prize.
Google Portland Trail Blazers and the most likely articles to come up will be regarding trades. Portland is still in the driver’s seat of the 8th seed of the playoffs, but no one is watching this team play and expecting any magic come spring time. Portland has been labeled both buyers and sellers by different media outlets, and it’s hard to say what’s going to happen. Do not expect Portland’s name to be away from any trade rumors anytime soon. This is a team in need of change.
Next Week Preview
Three road games and facing three of the top five seeds in the East is no small task. Luckily there are no back-to-backs and Portland will probably be catching both the Raptors and the Timberwolves with some injured players. Still, this could be a rough week if Portland brings the same energy as last week.