Following the final game in a three-game road swing to the East Coast, the flaws of the current iteration of the Portland Trail Blazers were laid bare for all to see as the team dropped every game on the road, culminating in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. A largely missing backcourt has not helped matters for the Blazers. Jason Quick of the Athletic captured the thoughts of coach Chauncey Billups, star point guard Damian Lillard, and shooting guard CJ McCollum regarding their performance.
Billups says the team needs to fight harder.
“I hate that we are a counter-punching team, man,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “We wait for people to jump on us to start competing, fighting. Then you put yourself in a position where you have to play perfect down the stretch, and we are just not that type of team right now to try and play perfect down the stretch. Just not playing good enough.”
CJ McCollum believes they need to make their shots.
“We just have to be better,” McCollum said. “I don’t make excuses. We have to do better, be more efficient. We have to figure it out. We are basketball players, we are elite basketball players and some things take time. But when you look at some of the looks we are getting, they are makeable shots, shots we normally make. Especially the catch-and-shoot 3s.”
Lillard acknowledges that he is not up to par.
“It’s an even tougher situation when I’m not in my regular form offensively,” Lillard said. “I think a game like tonight, if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing making shots, I could have got this game done.”
Billups notes they’re still struggling on defense.
“We are not doing a good job keeping the ball in front of us,” Billups said. “We are getting beat too quick. Our defense is designed to help, to help your buddy, but when you get beat in one dribble, the help can’t even be there yet.”
Lillard states that Billups has been doing a good job of coaching.
“He’ll come in the huddle and he will speak his mind — ‘This isn’t good enough … you can get a better one than that,’” Lillard said. “He doesn’t hesitate to call out bad plays, missed assignments, whatever. And I think it’s because he has a very good understanding on what it takes to win. So when he sees things out there happening that is taking away from us having a chance to win, he calls it out.”
He also has faith that the team can get back on track.
“I think I’m very good in dealing with rough stretches and seeing myself and seeing our team through it, and just finding a way to get on track,” Lillard said. “And this is no different, other than us having a new staff. That’s what we have to do — keep trusting what we are trying to do as a team, find our identity as a team. And that’s what is going to get us out of it.”
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