The Trail Blazers’ shortened week produced a 1-1 record. Following Sunday night’s victory over the Knicks, the Blazers maintained their previous position in the latest round of NBA power rankings.
In ESPN’s rankings, the Blazers moved up one spot to No. 11. ESPN’s Royce Young pointed to Damian Lillard’s stellar week when detailing Portland’s position on the list.
The Blazers are quietly managing their injury misfortune, and with Sunday’s game against the Knicks as the most recent example, they’re doing it with a tried and true method: Dame. Damian Lillard has dropped 35-plus points in three straight games, with a 40-point, 13-assist game a couple before that. Lillard is a supreme carrier, and that’s what he’ll need to do for the next few weeks while the Blazers wait on the return of CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.
CBS Sports NBA analyst Colin Ward-Henninger kept the Blazers at No. 10 inside this week’s rankings. Anfernee Simons’ breakout game against the Knicks captured Ward-Henninger’s attention.
The Blazers only played two games this week, losing to the Spurs by 21 on Monday and beating the Knicks on Sunday. As expected, Damian Lillard picked up his scoring with CJ McCollum sidelined, with Rodney Hood and Carmelo Anthony thriving given the extra opportunity. Anfernee Simons stepped up in the win over the Knicks with 16 points on 4-of-6 3-point shooting. If he can become a consistent contributor, that will go a long way toward staying afloat while McCollum is out.
Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil leveled out the Blazers’ week-to-week placement by moving Portland down one spot to No. 11. Dakhil highlighted the big shoes that the Blazers’ reserves must fill with McCollum sidelined.
There is no way to replace McCollum’s production. Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr. and Nassir Little must contribute in big ways. The Blazers got those contributions against New York, but that must continue as they get ready to start a long six-game road trip next week.
This week, the Blazers depart on an extended road trip after hosting the Thunder on Monday.