Trail Blazers All Access
The last time I checked in on the Portland Trailblazers was approximately one month ago.
Since that time, I had a two week bout with the flu, LINsanity took over New York, an announcement has been made that scantily clad women will be playing football in Abbotsford BC and LaMarcus Aldridge received his first invitation to the All-Star game in Orlando. Rehashing the past 28 days in a nutshell…
Here is the RIP City Report
The Trail Blazers apparently cannot win on the road (11-3 at home, 4-10 away).
Other than a 97-84 win over the former Vancouver Grizzlies on January 24th and a 177-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets on February 4th, the Oregon squad has struggled to find success against potential playoff bound squads.
A three point loss to the Atlanta Hawks, a four point L to Kevin Durant and the Thunder, a seven point fail against the Houston Rockets and a three point double OT stinker against the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks are among the struggles that the Blazers have had recently.
While the team has been able to walk away with W’s against the bottom feeders in the West, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and the horrid New Orleans Hornets (yup, that deal certainly worked out for the best Mr. Stern!), the problem is, so has every other team that the Blazers are battling for a playoff seed.
Holding two games in hand, the Utah Jazz, thanks to their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, are currently sitting on the eighth and final rung of the Western Conference playoff ladder.
The good news for the TrailBlazers is that just a single game separates the difference between their current spot in ninth and the fifth overall seed.
The bad news is that just a single game separates the difference between their current spot in ninth and the tenth overall seed.
So what has gone wrong with the Northwest’s only NBA franchise?
1) Ray Felton: The Blazers starting point is having his worst statistical season of his career. 10 points per game , 37% from the field and 20% from downtown. Sure he drops about 6 dimes per night, but when he is also averaging almost 3 turnovers at the same time, the 2-1 ratio isn’t screaming STARTER.
Sure it takes a while to get used to a new team, especially without the training camp and preseason (really, can we please use that excuse some more).
Chances are, these stats will improve and Felton will turn his season around, but maybe he just needs to take a backseat and let Jamal Crawford fill the role for a while.
2) Gerald Wallace: Crash needs to get back on track. Almost thirty games into his first “full” season with the Blazers, Wallace is averaging his lowest point performance since his first season in Charlotte, and his rebound production has dropped to his lowest since the 07-08 season.
The thing about Wallace is that he will give you a run of four to six impressive games statistically, but then he will drop in a couple of single digit performances that keeps him from joining the next level, from “star” to “superstar”.
3) Road woes: Chances are, the Blazers will find themselves in the playoffs. They are too good not to be included in the top eight of the West.
The problem is, there is a good chance that the Blazers will start their playoffs on the road, and with a 4-10 record so far away from the Rose Garden, the Blazers need to use the next thirty games to figure out how to win away from the comfort of their home court.
4) A shot of confidence: Other than LaMarcus Aldridge, the entire Blazers roster is in a funk. Missed shots, errant passes, failed defensive assignments. The roster is full of players who are too good at what they do to have constant mistakes at the wrong time.
The Blazers all need something good to happen to them, and while it is rare that it will happen all on the same night, getting two or three back on the same page one night at a time will go a long way towards getting everyone back on track.
5) Coaches clipboard: Would a roster shakeup do the trick? I’m not talking a trade, though that might not hurt (Felton/Camby/Batum for Gasol/Blake/Barnes…..helps both teams). What about giving an increased role to Batum and Crawford, while Wesley Matthews and Felton figure out their mental block off the bench?
Nate McMillan has started to shorten his leash on some of the struggling players, but maybe it is just a different look that they need.
The team has a well needed rest between Saturday’s double OT game and their next match on Tuesday against the troubled Washington Wizards.
However, the Wizards game kicks off a three game in three night run, which includes a road game against the Warriors and a home tilt against the Clippers.
With two of the three an almost guaranteed W, the Blazers will look to get back on track and be the team that everyone expected them to be at the start of the season.
THIS WEEKS GAMES:
Feb 14 vs. Washington
Feb 15 @ Golden State
Feb 16 vs. LA Clippers
Feb 18 vs. Atlanta
Marcus Camby: 25 games. 239 rebounds, 9.6rpg
LaMarcus Aldridge: 28 games, 240 rebounds, 8.6rpg
|02/12/12||Marcus Camby||C||Ankle||Questionable for Feb. 14 vs. Washington|
|02/03/12||Greg Oden||C||Knee||Likely out for the season|
IN THE COMMUNITY:
Join us at Portland Meadows as we will be giving away 200 pairs (400 in total) of Portland Trail Blazers tickets on Monday February 20, 2012, Presidents Day!