The Portland Trail Blazers finished up a 1-2 week on Sunday with a disappointing 109-101 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Portland’s most-recent string of losses did not result in any major movement in the latest round of power rankings.
ESPN’s rankings overlooked Portland’s struggles and kept the Blazers at No. 10. Contributor Royce Young did warn that coach Terry Stotts’ squad is in danger of dropping into the play-in field.
The Blazers are slipping perilously close to a play-in spot, just two games up on the Mavericks for the seventh seed. They’ve lost six of their past nine, and the schedule ahead isn’t forgiving. Some of the issue has been with Damian Lillard not pouring in his standard ridiculous performances, but as Lillard said this week, it’s more from the way opposing teams have adjusted to defending him than some kind of shooting slump. Defenses are forcing him to give the ball up and redirect the offense to his teammates. But at some point, if the Blazers continue to slide, Lillard might have to start forcing the issue. And there are few better at doing it.
Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil kept the Blazers at No. 13 and cited Portland’s strong Lillard-less performance against the Spurs in his analysis.
The good news for Portland is it was able to pick up a win with Lillard out, coming back from down 16 to stun the Spurs. The team got a big game out of CJ McCollum, who dropped 29 points on 13 of 26 shooting, while Norman Powell chipped in 22 points. That was not the case in their second game without Lillard as they fell to the Hornets.
The Athletic’s Zach Harper moved the Blazers back two spots to No. 14. Harper explained that the Blazers could be on the doorstep of a drastic slide in the rankings.
Just 3-6 in their last nine games, and it’s looking like this team may start sliding soon. Losing to Charlotte was inexcusable this weekend, even without Dame.
The Blazers face a tough four-game schedule this week. After facing the Clippers and Nuggets midweek, the Blazers finish the week with a two-game set against the Grizzlies.