Just how good are the Trail Blazers?
Entering the start of the NBA season, there have been numerous storylines (many that have been years in development) that have been occupying conversations of fans worldwide. Is Lebron on Jordan’s level? Is he even on Kobe’s? Can Miami 3 peat? Can Chicago compete with Rose? Can Houston really build a contender via free agency? Is San Antonio done? Can the same be asked about Oklahoma? Is Golden State ready for the next step?
All of these were (and most still are) legitimate questions, but we’re forgetting the elephant in the room: Just how far can Portland go?
Before I go any further, nobody (and I mean absolutely nobody) felt Portland was capable of this start. I was laughed at and questioned when I predicted them to be the 7th seed, but good God, nobody saw this coming. At 24-5, they have the best record in the league. They are an incredible 12-2 at home, and perhaps more impressively 12-3 on the road. The Blazers have a legitimate MVP candidate in LaMarcus Aldridge (although he was just as good last season.) They should be sending three players to the All Star game (Aldridge, Lillard and Batum) and, coach of the year candidate in Terry Stotts.
So how is it possible that they are still under the radar? How can The Lakers, Knicks, Nets and Clippers all be receiving more attention than Portland? Let’s ignore the big market theory because the accessibility the NBA enjoys now has nullified that. The perception is Portland is sneaking up on teams, and this run won’t last. I agree, it won’t last. 24-5 is an insane pace to keep up. But don’t be fooled, the Blazers aren’t going anywhere soon. They have shown a mental toughness that we usually see in playoff hardened teams. They’re grinding when they need to. They’re unselfish and know their roles.
In short, I’m impressed. And blown away.
The scary thing is they don’t realise how good they can be. And they seem unaware of outside expectations. They’re playing loose and they’re winning. And guess who they have next? The 2 time defending champs, the Miami Heat. And whilst the NBA fan base has largely been dismissive of Portland, you can bet they have Miami’s attention. The Heat are the measuring stick for the league, and this will be The Blazers’ opportunity to make a statement. They really do not know how good they can be. Contests like this will answer it for them (and us).
Even if you’re not a fan of either team, do not miss this.