Back on Track
Wesley Mattews tried to warn you. When the Portland Trail Blazers experienced arguably their worst loss of the NBA season — a 124-94 debacle against the Charlotte Bobcats – Wesley Matthews was the one who took it personally, issuing a guarantee of sorts when challenged by a reporter.
According to The Oregonian‘s Joe Freeman, an unnamed reported asked whether or not to kill the Blazers for their “general ineptitude” or “dismiss the hideous performances as just one of those nights…”
Matthews’ response was as straight forward as it could be, and it gave fans hope with the playoffs around the corner.
“f you kill us, you’re going to look dumb come next game,” the 27-year-old said. “Because we’re going to be a whole new team, we’re going to be the team we’re supposed to be.”
Matthews went on to challenge the reporter directly, stating, “So you go ahead and kill us. And you’re going to have to come back and see us in the locker room and be like, ‘Aw shoot.’ So I’m just going to save you. Write that. Write it all.”
These words rang loud and clear to the Rip City faithful, but unfortunately, we didn’t see a change until three games later.
In the contest following Matthews’ statement, Portland dropped a close one to the Miami Heat. A two-point road loss against the defending champions is more than acceptable, but it was the double-digit loss the the Orlando Magic the next night that hit fans the hardest.
Matthews said all the right things following the loss to Charlotte, but a subpar showing against the tanking Magic did little to instill confidence in anyone outside the organization. The team needed a win, and it got a big one March 27 against the Atlanta Hawks.
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) March 28, 2014
Portland went into the contest needing a win as badly as anyone in the NBA. The team that had once been in contention for the No. 1 spot out West was now in danger of missing the playoffs, but as it turned out, LaMarcus Aldridge‘s return couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Blazers came out ahead in that contest 100-85, getting the ball rolling when it came to momentum. They took down the Chicago Bulls — one of the best teams in the league since the All-Star break — 91-74 on the road, and then it finally got a win against the Memphis Grizzlies two games later.
Portland was even able to exact its revenge against the Los Angles Lakers on April 1 — a win that was made sweeter on national television.
Since Matthews spoke up — something we’ve seen him do in the past — the team has gone 4-2. The two losses came are unfortunate, but the squad now has a four-game winning streak entering Friday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns.
Portland needed a spark, and it got it with the return of LaMarcus Aldridge. It also needed confidence, and that has come at the right time with the playoffs around the corner.
The Blazers have six games left, and as it turns out, they’re fighting for home-court advantage once again. This is an inexperienced roster when it comes to the postseason, and any traction it can gain before the playoffs will help them succeed in a brutal Western Conference.