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Blazers’ Slow Start Could Carry Long-Term Implications

CBS Sports contributor Brad Botkin highlighted the concerning trends that have emerged from the Trail Blazers’ early-season showings.

Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Trail Blazers sit one game below .500 after seven games to open the 72-game 2020-21 regular season. Tuesday’s disappointing showing marked the first time in the NBA’s young season that a team that once possessed a 20-point advantage failed to secure a win.

Following the Blazers’ 111-108 loss to the Bulls, CBS Sports contributor Brad Botkin highlighted the noteworthy concerns that have emerged out of Portland’s early schedule. Unsurprisingly, Botkin focused on the Blazers’ non-existent defense.

The Blazers currently have the second-worst defense in the league. You might call that surprising given the point they made in addressing their defense in the offseason, signing Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. to give themselves at least a fighting chance on the wing after the departures of Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless prior to last season.

Botkin then turned his attention Jusuf Nurkic’s interior defense.

Entering Tuesday, teams were shooting 67 percent inside the restricted area vs. the Blazers, which ranks 25th league-wide. Nurkic, as the primary defender on such shots, was giving up buckets at a 58 percent clip, which isn’t awful but isn’t even close to elite. He’s shown he can defend at the rim at a 53 percent clip as recently as 2018-19, and he has to get back to at least that given that McCollum and Lillard are going to be compromised a lot on penetration.

Through seven contests, Nurkic is averaging 9.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The Trail Blazers will look to get back on track against the Timberwolves on Thursday.

You can read the complete story from Botkin at CBS Sports.