We recently polled Blazers faithful and NBA fans alike on the success or lack thereof that the Portland Trail Blazers will have as we approach the end of the 2022-23 NBA season.
The results were a mixed bag, as a slight 52 percent majority hold on to optimism that the Blazers will win more than they lose for the remainder of their 28-game schedule.
Since polled, Rip City secured an impressive victory over the Golden State Warriors despite 38 points from Jordan Poole and 31 points from Klay Thompson. The Blazers were aggressive in the paint, on the boards and in transition in one of their better offensive games of the year. One point to the silent majority whose faith lies with the Chauncey Billups-led ball club.
Damian Lillard has been on a scoring tear since Jan. 23. In this current nine game span, Lillard has scored 30 or more points seven times, including three 40-plus point games and a 60-point concierto against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 25. Over those nine games, the Blazers are 6-3.
Just when things may have been looking bleak out in the PDX, the Blazers have scratched and clawed their way into the No. 10 seed out West, remaining only 2.5 games out of the No. 4 seed.
Reinforcements have come via trade, as management beat the horn in ushering in forward Cameron Reddish from the New York Knicks for Josh Hart, as well as defensive standout Matisse Thybulle from the Philadelphia 76ers. They also let go of Gary Payton II, whose defensive prowess shone in his brief stint with the Trail Blazers.
Reddish and Thybulle bring size and length to a Blazers team that has had a void in stout perimeter defense, interior presence and ball security.
Continuity will be the major determining factor of how successful the rest of Portland’s season will be. They now have 27 games to establish camaraderie, assess the value of Reddish — whose potential has not matched his output in the league thus far — and get in a groove that can presumably carry over into the Play-in tournament at worst, and a Playoff run at best.