The Portland Trail Blazers struggled mightily this week, defeating the lowly Detroit Pistons at home, but losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and Toronto Raptors on the road.
Consequently, they have fallen in every national NBA power ranking. Check them out below.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. 22 (previously No. 15)
The Blazers rank sixth defensively over the last three weeks and have climbed out of the bottom 10 on that end of the floor for the season, even though they’ve been without Justise Winslow for the last seven games and had Gary Payton II for just 13 minutes before he sprained his ankle. But they’ve lost seven of their nine games over that three-week stretch, with only two of the nine coming against teams that currently have winning records. The two wins (over Charlotte and Detroit) have come at home, while the seven losses have come on the road, where the Blazers have struggled offensively.
They’ve scored just 108.1 points per 100 possessions over those last seven road games, with a ton of turnovers (18.2 per 100 possessions) and with their three most prolific 3-point shooters – Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant – having combined to shoot 56-for-177 (31.6%) from 3-point range. The Blazers were 0-for-13 from the field (with two turnovers) over the final 7 1/2 minutes in Indiana on Friday, their league-leading ninth loss in games they led by double-digits.
The 2-7 stretch has dropped the Blazers below .500 for the first time this season and into 10th place in the Western Conference. The good news is that they’ve had the league’s most road-heavy schedule to date, with only 14 of their 39 games at the Moda Center. They’re 9-6 (with four straight wins) at home, where they’ll play 10 of their next 11. They’ll have a rest advantage against the Magic on Tuesday, but the five games after that will be their toughest stretch between now and the All-Star break.
Zach Harper, The Athletic: No. 18 (previously No. 15)
What’s it looking like? I was pretty high on the Trail Blazers going into this season, and I’m mostly happy with their first half. They don’t just rely on Damian Lillard to be great. They’ve got a pretty well-rounded attack each night. Their offense is good. Their defense is solid. And they’re on pace to pretty much look at their over/under total directly in the eye all season long. I think they go on a run at some point and finish with a winning record, but they have got to start beating more non-losing teams. The record is juiced a little by facing the bad teams.
Kyle Wood, Sports Illustrated: No. 15 (previously No. 13)
The Trail Blazers went winless on the road last week to fall below .500 for the first time this season. The offense was largely limited in losses to the Timberwolves, Pacers and Raptors and Portland is now holding onto the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers return to the Moda Center to host the Magic, Cavaliers and Mavericks (twice) over the next several days.