It was an interesting deadline week for the Portland Trail Blazers to say the least. They shipped off Skal Labissiere for cash at the deadline and Damian Lillard added the Utah Jazz to the list of teams he will now try to incinerate forever and ever. All that being said, where do the Blazers stand among the other teams in a post-deadline NBA?
ESPN’s Royce Young still has them right in the middle at 15th, with the loss to Utah last Friday standing out like a sore thumb as the Blazers fight for a playoff spot.
Tough week for Damian Lillard, who averaged just 30.5 points in his three games. But it actually was a frustrating time for Lillard, who is still probably fuming over the missed goaltending call in Friday’s game at Utah. The Blazers have won seven of their past 10 contests, but that one loss against the Jazz sticks out. Bouncing back with an impressive win over the Heat on Sunday at least showed some fortitude and focus, by not allowing one bad loss to turn into two. As Lillard said in his postgame gripe in Salt Lake City, every single game matters for Portland from here on out.
Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated agreed with Young, ranking Portland 15th while pointing out the inconsistencies with replay rules.
Damian Lillard was certainly right to be frustrated with the no-call on Rudy Gobert’s goaltend in the final seconds on Feb. 7. The Blazers are in the thick of a playoff race, and Lillard is playing perhaps the best basketball of his career. To lose a game due to arcane replay procedures is infuriating. Let’s hope the league alters its review protocol in 2020-21.
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes has the Blazers 16th, writing about Portland’s decision to mostly stand pat at the deadline as well as the loss to Utah.
The Blazers got themselves under the tax line with some marginal roster shuffling, but that was it for them at the deadline. If Portland is going to drag itself back into playoff position, the personnel on hand will have to make it happen.
It would also help if the Blazers could catch a break on the officiating front, which they certainly didn’t in Friday’s 117-114 loss to the Utah Jazz. Though the Blazers were on the second night of a back-to-back set and were fading in the third and fourth quarters, Damian Lillard’s layup, goaltended by Rudy Gobert, should have tied the game with 13.5 seconds left.
The violation went uncalled, and the Blazers lost. Lillard, who continued his absurd scoring tear with 42 points (which should have been 44) was righteously upset.
Portland deserved better than its 2-2 record against a brutal schedule this week that featured the Denver Nuggets, Spurs, Jazz and Miami Heat.
Finally, Collin Ward-Henniger of CBS Sports has Portland 15th, noting the absurdity of Lillard and the impact of Gary Trent Jr.
Damian Lillard has averaged over 30 points and 8.3 assists on 41 percent 3-point shooting over his last four games, and it seems like he had a bad week. Opponents consistently threw double-teams at Lillard just beyond half court, and the Blazers went 2-2 against the Nuggets, Spurs, Jazz and Heat. Gary Trent Jr. is starting to come into his own on a team in desperate need of wings, averaging 16.8 points on 15-for-27 3-point shooting over the past week.
Portland will start their week on the road when they face off against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. PT.