Despite missing one, or both of its starting backcourt, the team stayed competitive, winning games against the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat while going down to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Suns on the second night of a back-to-back.
NBA.com, The Athletic, Clutch Points, Bleacher Report and CBS Sports have given their respective verdicts on the how the Blazers have performed through the four-game stretch.
John Schuhmann at NBA.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 6, two spots down from last week. “The Blazers are 2-2 without Damian Lillard, not bad considering that three of the four games have come against the Grizzlies and Suns (x 2). Their bench kept them in the first of two games in Phoenix, allowing Jusuf Nurkic to come up with two big buckets (one of which made him 6-for-9 from 3-point range this season) in the final minute, which set up Jerami Grant for the game-winner. The Phoenix-Portland season series is already over, with the Blazers picking up two clutch wins over the team that was 33-9 in clutch games last season.
Zach Harper at The Athletic has the Trail Blazers at No. 10, one spots down from last week. “The effect: Some of this futility in transition is because the Trail Blazers have been missing Damian Lillard for most of the season. He wasn’t amazing in transition in his brief time this season, but he was still pretty good. Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant have really struggled to put pressure on opponents in transition. Both of them turn the ball over roughly 15 to 16 percent of the time in transition, and that’s just not going to cut it. At the same time, I’m not sure it’s anything to worry about. The Blazers have weapons who can really put you on your heels. Regression to the mean will go in their favor, especially when Lillard returns.”
Enzo Flojo from Clutch Points has the Trail Blazers at No. 8, four spots down from last week. “The Blazers plunge down quite a bit after going 1-2 this week. Yes, it was a tough week playing the Grizzlies and Suns without Damian Lillard, but it was a good test to see where this team was really situated. A long road trip continues this week as Dame recovers.”
Andy Bailey from Bleacher Report has the Trail Blazers at No. 12, two spots up from last week. “The Portland Trail Blazers have returned to earth a bit after their 4-0 start. That was to be expected with Damian Lillard missing the last two games, but he may not be carrying quite as much responsibility as you might expect.
Colin Ward-Henninger from CBS Sports has the Trail Blazers at No. 6, four spots down from last week. “Only two games this week for the Blazers, who beat the Rockets before losing to the Grizzlies. Damian Lillard has yet to return from his calf injury, which allowed Anfernee Simons to take advantage of the extra opportunity to the tune of 30 and 31 points, respectively, on 42 percent 3-point shooting. Jusuf Nurkic was also a beast on the inside this week, putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds per game while shooting 65 percent from the field. He also hit all four of his 3-pointers.”