Technically, Portland went 2-2 last week, but they certainly did not play average basketball. One of those wins came last Monday against the Hornets, owners of the worst record in the Western Conference. The other came against the Wizards, who, well … have a worse record than the Hornets.
Sandwiched between those games was a decisive loss to Minnesota and a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Celtics, who led the Blazers 65-30 at halftime and increased their lead in the first quarter.
After the New Orleans win, the big talk in the locker room was how key this road trip was, and so far, the Blazers have not seemed to respond. Are there a flurry of winnable games when they come home? Sure. But if they don’t pick it up, it might be too late by then.
The one bright spot for Portland has been the reemergence of LaMarcus Aldridge, who struggled in his first games since the All-Star break but has looked like his old self since, scoring 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting against Washington, posting 22 points against both Boston and Minnesota.
Blazers coach Nate McMillan has been lauded the past couple years for dragging a banged up team into the playoffs. And while his roster was just as thin this year (Brandon Roy and Greg Oden never played a game, and Raymond Felton was a downgrade at point guard), the brass in his organization tend not to be patient.
It will be interesting to see how this road trip affects McMillan’s standing within the franchise, the city is abuzz about whether he will live to see another year … or even another month. He’s gotten this group to respond before. Can he do it again?
By the Numbers
1 — Where the Bulls and the Thunder currently sit in their respective conference’s standings. Portland ends the trip with Chicago and Oklahoma City.
43 — The Blazers’ largest deficit in Friday’s loss to the Celtics.
15.7, 7.0 — Raymond Felton’s points and assists-per-game average since returning to the starting lineup four games ago.