Some Things to Love and Hate
Amid the hype in the Northwest that the Portland Trail Blazers had stocked their bench during the offseason and could be a surprise in 2013 was the lost fact that the men from Rip City had yet to play in an actual game. While expectations generally always run high before seasons begin, this year was different in Portland. The Blazers were active in the market, added needed depth to their roster, and looked like they would be a much-improved squad.
That wasn’t apparent, however, in last night’s opening loss to the Phoenix Suns.
While there is still plenty of basketball to play and Portland could easily turn things around and be a dominant force, lackluster play off the bench coupled with some disappointing stats from starters led the way to a forgettable loss in the season opener.
Here are some things to love and hate from this game.
The Season Begins
This is obviously an easy one at the start of any season as we are happy all the talk, hype, and predictions are finally over. The Blazers were back on the court, and while they didn’t get a win it was still good to see the squad out there and playing some real basketball.
Tempered in expectations to wash-out a so-so 2012-2013 season, Portland was finally able to step onto the court and begin their next campaign towards greatness. Let’s hope they can turn things around quick and head in the right direction on Friday night.
Last season Damian Lillard was explosive, mesmerizing, and the best rookie in the league. With the bar set high for his sophomore season in the NBA, Lillard still looks like he’s going to give opposing teams quite the fit in 2013-2014.
Converting 10-of-20 from the field and 6-of-12 from beyond the arc Lillard managed 32 impressive points on Wednesday while also being able to collect four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. If those stats don’t scream ‘I’M READY FOR THIS SEASON, BRING IT ON’, I don’t really know what does.
Perhaps LaMarcus Aldridge is ready to shine alongside Lillard in Rip City and show the nation that the Blazers have two of the best players in the league. Last night Alrdidge played 39 minutes of great basketball, converting 12-of-22 while scoring 28 points.
Taking the Loss
Every team hates losing, but it’s always tough to start a highly-anticipated season with a loss. Though this is just one game of many and will likely be a minor hiccup in the long term, it would have been much better to see the Blazers complete the comeback last night and get the season started off on the right foot.
Speaking of the comeback, the only reason the Blazers needed a major one was because of their poor play early on in the game. Though they managed to match Phoenix’s fast-paced attack in the early stages of the game, the Blazers couldn’t keep up, resulting in them falling behind by quite a margin at times in the contest.
Expect them to pick things up in the next few games and play closer contests throughout all four quarters.
Much of this offseason was spent talking about the depth on Portland’s roster after they were relatively active in the market. With high expectations for the likes of Mo Williams, the bench was disappointing — to say the least — on Wednesday night.
In fact, the bench accumulated just 12 points over the course of the game while essentially being a non-factor.
If the Blazers are to have any chance of making a big splash in the Western Conference this year they’re going to need their bench to play with more power and consistency.