Competition in the Western Conference is extremely tight in Week 12 of the NBA season, with no team firmly above the rest in the standings. Sitting at No. 8 with a record of 18-16, the Portland Trail Blazers are just four games behind the New Orleans Pelicans (22-12) at No. 1.
The Trail Blazers started the season hot but a series of missed opportunities has caused a bit of a slide. Guard Josh Hart told reporters at Wednesday’s practice that he sees the team as better than their placement.
“I think we’re unhappy with being in eighth. I think we could easily be in second. Denver game we gave up here, Brooklyn game we gave up here, Clipper game we gave up here – just those three off the top of our head, you know, we win those three we’re, what, 21-13? And we’re in second or third place in the West. So, we know we gave away a couple, you know, the OKC games, we should have won both, honestly, in my opinion. We know we dug ourselves a hole but we know we’re a better team than what the standings are. And, obviously, to our benefit, like you said, no one’s really separated themselves. We’re all two, three, four games out of first place. So, you know, we just got to go in, get on a run, which we have the capability to do, and just put together wins.”
The flip side of this close competition is that the Trail Blazers are also only three games ahead of 12th place in the conference standings. They cannot afford to continue losing winnable games if they intend to stay in the top cluster of teams.
Fortunately, the Trail Blazers will have a chance to gain some ground right away. Portland’s next matchup is with the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors, followed by a home game against the league-worst Detroit Pistons.
It’s time for the Trail Blazers to begin distinguishing themselves. Are they the team we hoped they were after a 9-3 start? Or, are they destined for a season of relative mediocrity?
What do you think, Blazer’s Edge community?