A three man team can still make the postseason, if they actually get big games from their entire starting five. The Portland Trail Blazers are mostly about LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard, but sometimes they get a little bit more from J.J. Hickson and Wesley Matthews.
This is a make-or-break road trip for us. I keep saying, we’re right there. If we play good on this trip then anything is possible. Hopefully it’s a little momentum for us going out on the road.
The Blazers, 31-34, have now won two straight games, but head on to a five game road trip that might be a make or break for them, with games at Milwaukee, Chicago, Oklahoma City and Atlanta, all postseason bound teams. LaMarcus Aldridge led the team with 31 points, as they continue to rely completely on their starting five, scoring 97 of their 112 points.
While Damian Lillard wasn’t having the best of days with 14 points and 3-12 from the field, adding 7 assists, the Nicolas Batum was having one of his better days of recent. Not just his defense that is always excellent (3 blocks), but his shooting was good (7-14 from the field), adding 17 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
We did not come up with plays at the end of the game. To their credit, Portland played well. They are a tough team to beat at home and when Aldridge is playing like he did tonight, they’re tough. But more importantly, though, we lost. We just have to come out and get more stops defensively, because that’s what hurt us tonight.
The Blazers have won five straight against Detroit at the Rose Garden. Wesley Matthews scored 17 points and hit two three pointers, and J.J. Hickson added 18 points with 15 rebounds. And that’s going to be the way they have to play in order to make it into the postseason, and it’s not really up to them.
Aldridge is a bunker – as stable as you get from your power forwards in the NBA. The keys will be Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum. Lillard needs to much better than he was in the win over the Pistons, which do present some sort of challenge in the backcourt, but it’s not even close to what he might be facing with Jrue Holiday, the Jennings – Ellis monster (at time) and Russell Westbrook.
Nicolas Batum is always the biggest question -which Batum will show up? The one who reminds people of Scottie Pippen not just because of his length and defense, but when the mood falls upon him he becomes a close to unstoppable scoring machine, and a very smart play caller as well? Or the player that simply lowers his head and goes off for a 5-18 shooting night, decimating any chance of the Blazers to win and make the postseason for the first time since the Brandon Roy illusion fell apart with two pain-filled knees.
The Blazers are a team you want to see in the playoffs, but I’m not sure they’ll have enough left with simply nothing coming from their bench.