Trail Blazers: Struggling to Find Offensive Rhythm
The Portland Trail Blazers play the Orlando Magic today at 4:00pm as the Western Conference teams compete to establish definitive playoff leaders heading into games 25-45. The Blazers have made it into playoffs every NBA [National Basketball League] season since 2013. It will be interesting to see how the team adjusts due to the injuries from their game against The Washington Wizards. Jusuf Nurkic, their starting center, and Moe Harkless, their previous starting power forward are injured. Although the Blazers are performing below average as of game 23, with an 7-6 [7 wins and 6 losses] record at home, and a 13-10 [13 wins, and 10 losses] overall record, they have high hopes for the rest of the season. In an Interview with The Oregonian on Dec 3, members of The Blazers team spoke about their expectations for the coming weeks.
“We need to be better,” coach Terry Stotts said. “If we want to be the team that we want to be, we have to be better at home. There’s no question.”
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have been an effective duo on offense, leading the team in points. As of their game against the Wizards on Dec 5, Lillard is averaging just under 30 points per game, and McCollum is averaging just under 25 points per game. The loss of Nurkic and Harkless during that game is a major defensive setback for the Blazers.
“This is my sixth year,” Lillard said, “and if y’all ain’t figured out that I’m not a worrier by now, then I don’t know when y’all going to figure it out.”
During this pivotal time during the season, the Blazers must attempt to break away from the Western Conference pack to build up their record up with wins before game 50, when teams like The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs break away with long win streaks and championship hopes. A constantly changing starting lineup and individual matchups has prevented the Blazers from settling into a early season rhythm.
“You’d like to settle in on things. But you have to be able to adapt.” McCollum said. “There’s a certain type of familiarity when you know who you’re going to be out there with and you know what times you’re going to be out there. It’s also a certain comfort level when guys know when they’re going to go in the game. But I think as we progress — we’re only 20-something games into the season – when we get to game 40, game 50, I think you’ll find more balance and offensively we’ll be better as well.”