Where the Blazers Are Today

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,

~BlazersBySagar

 

 

Blazers Continue to Impress

Lillard and Matthews

How long can the Blazers keep up the level of play they have maintained so far this season. Portland has come out of the gates gunning this season, starting the season off at 17-4.

For starters, Portland has shot the ball from three exceptionally well, shooting 41.8% from deep, second only to the Golden State Warriors. Wesley Matthews is helping that number, shooting a scorching 49.1% from deep, a career high so far. He and his back-court teammate, Damian Lillard, have accounted for 118 from three-point land.

The team is also being very unselfish, often willing to make the extra pass to an open player. The team averages just under 23 assists per game on just over 39 field goals made. That is good for 6th in the league.

The outstanding passing can also be attributed to the team chemistry the team has off the court. Some players were quoted as saying this was best locker room they’ve been a part of, in terms of chemistry. That is one of the reasons Portland is rumored not to be interested in Houston C Omer Asik. The Blazers have been pleased with Robin Lopez’s effort, and he is one of the most loved players in the locker room. He also represents Portland really well (comics and a white guy with a red afro). To read more about the Blazers and their rumored interests in Asik, click here.

Portland is also surprisingly one of the league’s best at taking care of the basketball. They average just 14.4 turnovers. Off those turnovers, opponents are able to get 15.4 points, which puts them in the top 10 for fastbreak defense. However, it is probably something they are looking to improve on as the season goes on.

All this has lead to one of the best starts in history. Through 20 games, this Blazers team sat at a very nice record of 17-3. That tied the second best franchise record through 20 games. The previous time a Blazers team won 17 of their first 20 games was in 1977-78, the year after Portland won its only championship. The best 20-game start in franchise history was 19-1, set by the 1990-91 team. However, if Portland keeps on the pace they are at, they will hold the best record for a Blazers team (winning percentage). Here’s how this season so far stacks up to the other 42 seasons in team history (click on any image in this article to enlarge):

Blazers best start in 21 gamesIn that image, this year’s team happens to be at the best winning percentage a Blazers team has ever finished at. As I said earlier, if this team keeps up the pace they are at (which I think is unlikely), they would become the best Blazers team in franchise history.

What do national analysts think about this Blazers team? Most think that this team is a legit contender for the Western Conference, and that this team is a team that will have home-court advantage come playoff time.

I would like to be optimistic about this team, but the chance of the Blazers maintaining the #1 spot in a stacked Western Conference is very difficult, especially with the upcoming schedule. I’ve put the schedule in image form below (red are home games and gray are road games):

Blazers Schedule 2013-14How do you think this Blazers team has done a little over a quarter of the way through the season (yes, we are that far already)? Are you impressed? What do you expect for this team going farther through? What seed do you think the Blazers will hold in the Western Conference once the season ends in April? Reply in the comments below!

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar