Blazers week in review 03-23

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer

Published:

 

Blazer Beef

The Blazers went 1-4 on their five game road trip which started with high expectations. After beating the Raptors, they dropped four straight games.

They lost Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge was held out in the second half of Saturday’s loss against Memphis due to injury but their problems on the defensive end have been much more concerning.

Their offense struggled against Memphis but performance of their defense has been a more disturbing trend.

After Sunday, the Blazers starting lineup with Arron Afflalo instead of Wesley Matthews has now been outscored by more than nine points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com.

Their offense has slipped but their defense has gone from allowing 97.4 points per 100 possessions with Matthews in the lineup to a whopping 114 with Afflalo. The Blazers need to find a way to figure it out or else their playoff run might have brooms involved.

It’s also worth mentioning that Damian Lillard is the only Blazer to play in every game and hasn’t looked like himself lately.

Blazer Bravo

CJ McCollum’s scoring off the bench was maybe the lone bright spot of Portland’s final two games of the road trip.

He scored 15 against the Magic and 13 against the Grizzlies in back-to-back games. His buckets against Memphis were the most impressive as many came against Tony Allen, an elite defender.

Dorell Wright made some nice plays in the Memphis loss.

But in an 0-4 week, it’s hard to find bright spots.

By The Numbers

9 — The Blazers are now ninth in overall defensive efficiency after being ranked 3rd as early as 10 days ago.

5 — Portland’s lead over Oklahoma City in the Northwest division stands at five games with 14 left to play.

2 — Portland’s first two games next week are against two of the league’s top-3 defenses since the All-Star break in Golden State and Utah.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday vs. Golden State Warriors (7:30 p.m., TNT): The Warriors have the league’s best record at 56-13 and have already clinched a playoffs spot in the West.

Wednesday at Utah Jazz (6 p.m., CSNNW): The Jazz have the league’s best defense since the All-Star break allowing 91.1 points per 100 possessions.

Friday at Phoenix Suns (7 p.m., CSNNW, NBATV): The Suns are barely holding on in the race for the West’s final playoff spot as they trail Oklahoma City by three games.

Saturday vs. Denver Nuggets (7 p.m., KGW): Will Barton makes his first appearance in Portland since being included the deadline-day trade for Arron Afflalo.