The Blazers have had a surprisingly successful start to the 2013-14 NBA season. After the first 10 games (at which point the Blazers were 8-2), people across the country thought this team was simply a fluke. Their thought was completely fair, as anything can happen in just 10 games. However, this team has continued to prove doubters wrong, winning games against some very difficult competition. However, the question to be asked is why this team is so good, and how are they maintaining this level of success.
Firstly, the Blazers are a very unselfish team. Players are always willing to make the extra pass, and it often leads to open shots along the perimeter, which this team was built to make. For example, in the following clip, both Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews passed up open shots, and in the end, it led to a wide open LaMarcus Aldridge jumper.
Secondly, this team uses the right balance of pursuing an offensive rebound, while still getting back on defense to stop the opponent fast break. A very good example of this is shown in the work that Joel Freeland does. In this next video, Freeland grabs an offensive rebound and dishes it out to Damian Lillard for an open 3 (which, of course, he makes). I apologize for the poor video quality:
However, critics have knocked on this team for being below average defensively. This is a fair claim, as the Blazers rank in the bottom half of the league on the defensively. To add to that, the Blazers give up an average of 48.6 points in the paint, which is the worst in the league. However, the Blazers are the best offensive team, averaging a league-high 108.6 points per game.
In fact, one analyst compared this Blazers team to the 2011 Dallas Mavericks championship team. Both teams revolve around a very good power forward. For Portland, it’s obviously LaMarcus Aldridge. For the Mavericks, it was Dirk Nowitzki. Both those power forwards got support from a plethora of shooters. For Portland, that group includes Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews. On the Dallas team, it was Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and J.J. Barea.
Lastly, I want to call out national basketball “analyst” Charles Barkley. Twice on national television (TNT), he has said he doesn’t think “shooting teams,” such as Portland, can sustain a high level of play, and will not succeed in the playoffs. This has obviously received national backlash on social media, especially from Portland. During halftime of the Blazers’ win over the Los Angeles Clippers, he said Portland would lose. Of course, Portland called him out on Twitter, and one of my friends got his tweet on TNT. The following video shows a little bit of Barkley’s reaction:
This team now sits at 24-6 through 30 games, a very nice record. What do you guys think about the Blazers? Can they continue to win and be tops in the West? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time,