The Trail Blazers amassed a less-than-ideal 1-3 record last week. In those three defeats, two of the margins crossed the double-digit threshold. Portland’s subpar week, especially against above-500 teams, led to a slide in the latest round of power rankings.
In ESPN’s rankings, the Blazers slipped from No. 9 to No. 10. Contributor Royce Young pointed to the fatigue that Damian Lillard is displaying on the floor.
After carrying the team for two months, the burden might be catching up to Damian Lillard. In six April games, Lillard is averaging just 20.1 points on 38.3% shooting — and the Blazers are 2-4, with wins over Detroit and OKC. They are finally healthy, and deadline addition Norman Powell is playing well. All signs pointed to them hitting a stride, but they go as Lillard goes, and until he finds his second wind, neither will the Blazers.
Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil moved coach Terry Stotts’ squad down to No. 13 this week. Dakhil pointed out that the Mavericks are gaining ground on the Blazers.
It was a rough week for the team in the Pacific Northwest. The Blazers went 1-3 and they were not even close in their defeats, losing by an average of 15 points. Their hold on the sixth seed is slipping with Dallas now just 1 ½ games behind.
The Athletic’s Zach Harper put the Blazers at No. 12 on Monday. Regardless of Portland’s dip on the list, Harper highlighted Norman Powell’s clear fit inside the Blazers’ re-tooled rotations. Specifically, Harper touched on a five-man lineup featuring: Lillard, CJ McCollum, Powell, Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic.
Thanks to some injuries for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, we’ve already seen their lineup with the newly acquired Norman Powell clock in as the fourth most used five-man combination for the Blazers this season. And the good news is that it’s been wildly successful. The Blazers are defending with this lineup, which is something most of their lineups haven’t done all season. Even if it’s half as good defensively as it has been, that’s a massive upgrade for Portland moving forward.
The Trail Blazers start their three-game slate of games this week with a matchup against the Celtics on Tuesday.