By Brandon Easler
Currently riding a 10-game win streak, the Trail Blazers are arguably the hottest team in the entire NBA right now. Damian Lillard has been playing out of his mind, as he averaged 31.4 points per game in February and is averaging 31.8 points per game in March so far. Lillard has only scored under 20 points one time in the past month and a half, but the real question is if this team can keep it going and really pose a threat to the Rockets and Warriors to get to the Finals.
Included in the Blazers 10-game streak are two wins over the aforementioned Warriors (albeit one without Steph Curry). Lillard and C.J. McCollum might form the best backcourt in the league right now and match up well with both Curry and Thompson and CP3 and Harden. The problem might come beyond the Blazers star guard tandem. There is very little offensive production beyond the two guards, as Jusuf Nurkic is the only other Blazer averaging over 10 points per game. However, Lillard and McCollum light it up enough most nights to make this stat a non-factor.
The Trail Blazers really pride themselves on their defense, as they have the sixth best defensive rating in the league. They have four players (Nurkic, Maurice Harkless, Ed Davis, and Al-Farouq Aminu) all with above 1 defensive plus-minus. So, having two offensive stars on the court with all of these defensive stoppers seems to be the perfect balance for this team. Another thing that this team has going for them is length, as all of Aminu, Davis, Harkless, and Nurkic are taller than 6’8” which makes it tough for teams to score on the inside.
Portland seemingly has what it takes to make a deep playoff run. However, Lillard and McCollum must get hot at the right time in order for them to take down the Warriors and Rockets. The Blazers must continue their winning ways because if they slip any over their last 15 games they might lose home court advantage in their first playoff series. The main storyline with this team is if Lillard can continue his MVP type play and carry his team to the promised land.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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