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Trail Blazers Celebrating Exit from Schedule Hell

Jason Quick of The Athletic quotes coaches and players breathing a sigh of relief.

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Indiana Pacers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers hold a 13-11 record after the first 24 games of their 2022-23 regular season schedule. To outside eyes, the mark looks mediocre, barely above .500. Among those not disappointed by it: the Trail Blazers themselves. Portland’s strength of schedule so far has been among the toughest in the NBA. Any winning mark during that stretch could be considered a quality performance.

Jason Quick of The Athletic penned a piece this week indicating as much [subscription required], quoting key Blazers members on their reaction to the start of the season.

Following Portland’s 116-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, All-Star guard Damian Lillard commented on the rough stretch of games:

“I think this is what we need. If we are going to accomplish what we want to accomplish, we have to be tried,” Lillard said after finishing with 21 points in his first action after missing seven games with a strained right calf. “You have to be tested. And I think we are getting tested from every angle.”

Head Coach Chauncey Billups affirmed that take, characterizing his team’s performance positively:

“We’re in a good spot,” coach Chauncey Billups said. “We’ve been in a really tough stretch, maybe our toughest stretch of the season in terms of travel and games. We knew it was going to be a difficult stretch here, and that’s what it’s proven to be. But I think we are in a good spot.”

Portland currently sits 8th in the NBA Western Conference, three games behind conference-leading Phoenix.

Quick’s article contains more quotes from Lillard and Billups on the team, as well as assessments from starting guard Anfernee Simons.