The Portland Trail Blazers, a team who couldn’t get things done on the road last year and ultimately saw their 2012-2013 season slip away from them, are currently on an eight game winning streak and finished their road sweep with a low-scoring defensive affair against the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the nation finally taking notice of the Blazers and their impressive start to their 2013-2014 campaign, Portland may not have dazzled on offense but did everything they needed to in order to get fend off a resilient and pesky Bucks squad looking for their third win of the year.
Stumbling out of the gate and allowing Milwaukee to gain momentum early on, the Blazers once again fought back in the final three quarters to ensure there would be no upset on the night.
Down 24-23 at the end of one, Portland rattled off 30 in the second, 17 in the third, and 21 in the fourth to stave off the Bucks while improving their record to 10-2 on the year. Relying on their most consistent and standout players to take control of the game, the Blazers showcased an impressive defensive effort in the win while forwarding momentum for a big home tilt against the Chicago Bulls.
Here’s what there was to love and hate from this game.
Cruising on the Road
After looking like a team that would have problems on the road in their first game of the year against Phoenix, Portland has been dominant away from the Moda Center, winning the remainder of their road contests. More impressively, their recent road trip saw them rattle off four consecutive victories to extend their winning streak to eight games and establish themselves as a dominant presence both at home and on the road.
While the level of opponent may not have been tops in the NBA, the fact that they managed to stay in every game and come away with wins is more than impressive. Look for this confidence to pay huge dividends as the season progresses.
Stars Getting it Done
Last night LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21, Damian Lillard put up 19, and Wesley Matthews scored 15. While it would be nice to see at least one other guy in double figures on the night, the stars of the Blazers were more than enough to keep the Bucks at bay.
Consistent play like this throughout the year will ensure Portland is a true contender.
Contributions From All
Moving away from the point above, it was also great to see the rest of the Blazers contribute on a level needed to come away with a win. Four other players had over four points and all players who entered the game scored and saw themselves involved in key plays in the game. This equal distribution of play only solidified Portland’s case for being one of the deepest squads in the league.
Not a Dominating Performance
While Portland was more than apt at coming back in last night’s contest, they really didn’t look as dominant as I thought they would against a lowly Milwaukee squad. When you’re 9-2 and facing a 2-7 program who is 1-3 at home, you expect to come away with a big and easy win. That wasn’t exactly the case last night, though, as the Bucks kept threatening to come back into the contest and Portland just couldn’t create any real separation.
If they want to be considered one of the most dominant teams in the league, they’ll have to come away with some dominant wins.
Looking ahead the Blazers now head home for a HUGE game against the Chicago Bulls that will really show the nation what they are worth. So if you don’t already have tickets, get out to the Moda Center and BE LOUD.