The Portland Trail Blazers are 5-4 so far this season with some exciting victories and some very humbling losses against the NBA’s elite teams. A wee few games into an 82-game marathon, the Blazers should have a bright season ahead of them. With a dynamic duo in the backcourt and an experienced bench, the Blazers should make some noise come playoff time next spring.
The good news for Blazers fans is that the guard duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been right on point so far. Lillard is averaging 30 points per game, and shooting 48 percent. McCollum is averaging 21 points per game on 47 percent from the field. Pleasant surprises for the Blazers have been small forward Maurice Harkless, who is averaging 11 points per game while shooting over 50 percent, and center Mason Plumlee who is averaging over 9 points and just over 5 rebounds a game.
Scoring points has not been a problem for Portland, to start; they’re averaging 107 points per game.
But defense has been an issue for head coach Terry Stotts so far, as the Blazers are allowing 111 points per game. They have only held their opponents under 100 points twice, which is a concerning sign. Against the NBA’s elite, such as the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Blazers have really struggled to contain those high-power offenses. They surrendered 127 points to the Warriors, and 114 and 111 points to the Clippers. Not the way the Blazers hoped to start the season defensively, as all of their five wins have been narrow, high scoring games.
So, there are clearly things the Blazers can improve on. First, their defense which ranks 27th in the NBA. Second is their rebounding; the team averages only 40 rebounds per game, 25th in the league.
If Portland can get better on the defensive end, and keep up its high-pace scoring offense, the Blazers should be a contender in the Western Conference. But the improvements must be made.