All He Does Is Win, Win, Win
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Terry Stotts — your Western Conference Coach of the Month.
After beginning the 2013-14 NBA season 13-3, Stotts took home the first Coach of the Month award of the year. The opening month included an 11-game winning streak that took the league by surprise, forcing people across the country to view the Portland Trail Blazers as true contenders.
In total, the team from the Northwest is 17-4 on the season. A tough last-second loss to the Dallas Mavericks spoils the success entering Week 6, but you can’t forget that the team is still first in the entire Western Conference.
There will be doubters all season long, but if the team continues winning, Stotts and his crew will be ready to compete when it counts at the end of the year.
The Trail Blazers have made a habit of getting down in games this season. Coming from behind is never easy, but when you have a young group that is willing to push the tempo, it makes life easier on a coach who preaches defense and three-point shooting.
The Blazers have been able to climb back in contests because of Stotts’ willingness to let the long ball fly. He doesn’t always push the tempo the way some fans would like to see, but his love for the three-point line is something both fans and players have bought into.
The other reason this team has made a name for itself in comeback situations is because it has a real-life bench (unlike last season). Credit GM Neil Olshey for putting the pieces in place, but don’t forget that Stotts is the one establishing the rotation and getting guys into the game when they need to be.
Keep an eye on this category as the season continues. Nobody wants to be in a situation where they have to come back from double digits, but you especially don’t want to see it happen when legs are tired at the end of the year.
Being known as comeback kids is exciting early in the year — it can be a major problem come playoff time.
Giving Up Leads
As comfortable as fans can be when the Blazers are down, they have reason to be just as uncomfortable when the team is ahead.
Take the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. The Blazers went ahead 19-4 in the first quarter, and yet they went into halftime up by just three. Fast forward to the second half, and the Blazers once again jumped ahead, this time by 20.
Unfortunately for the team, Los Angeles put together a furious effort in the end, and while Portland walked away with a win, it was much closer than anyone anticipated.
Again, look for this to become a bigger problem late in the year. At this time, Stotts is doing what it takes to come away with wins in unlikely situations, but when the Blazers are tired at the end of the year, weathering the storm will be far more difficult.
This week, this category belongs to what we’ll see from the national media — not from Stotts himself.
The Trail Blazers are slated to play their first game on national television Thursday night against the Houston Rockets. It’s astonishing to me that the team out West with the best record has yet to play a game in front of a national audience, but it is what it is when it comes to the NBA schedule.
I’m curious to see how much credit the TNT commentators give Stotts at this point in the process. We all know about Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, but the man at the helm is Stotts, and he deserves whatever spotlight he’s given — or more if you ask me.