Surprise surprise folks, the Portland Trailblazers have started the 2013-2014 season with a record of 13-2. They’ve now won 11 straight games and is currently half a game back for the overall 1 seed in the entire Western Conference. I had Portland making the postseason as the 8 seed this season, but how good is Portland in reality?
For starters, the Blazers have two 20+ scorers per game, LaMarcus Aldridge (22 PPG) and Damian Lillard (20 PPG) and two more players scoring 14+ a night, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum at 17 PPG and 14 PPG respectfully. Wins versus NINE playoff teams from last season make up a huge portion of there wins this season. This season they’re averaging this young seasons scoring 103.9 and there defense is giving up 97.6, a + differential of 6.3 a huge difference from last season where Portland scored only 97.5 per game and allowed 100.7, a – 3.2. Last season the Blazers were an outstanding 11-30 on the road while this year they’re 7-1 in road games and have 1 more win on the road then they do even at home. They’re also doing what they have to verse a weak Eastern Conference, 7-0 versus them as a whole. Another difference, last season Portland averaged the least minutes from there bench, along with the least points. This offseason, they went out and acquired a very solid 6th man in Mo Williams, who has been an All-Star in the past, got a young athletic stretch Power Forward in Thomas Robinson and the sharp shooting Dorrell Wright.
Maybe the biggest key to Portland’s success may lie in the hands of the Trailblazers Big 4, per say. First is, Wesley Matthews he scored 14.8 PPG last year on 43% from the field and 39% from 3-Point land, this year, 17 PPG on 55% from the field on 50% on threes. He’s averaging 3 more rebounds a game from last year and keeping these types of numbers up he may be bringing himself an All-Star appearance. The Blazers 2 stars, the second highest scoring tandem in the league behind Dallas, in LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have been on a tear early on. 42 PPG, 14.1 RPG and 8.6 APG combined, while only turning the ball over 4.4 times a game. Nic Batum, one of the more underrated and underappreciated players in the league is, like the other 3, off to an excellent start. His averages, 14 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 5.0 APG all while shooting 46% from the field, shooting 43% from three, are the type of the numbers of players that are the glue of your team.
Has the Portland Trailblazers schedule been tough? Not necessarily, only beating 3 teams with .500 records or better but they’ve done what they’ve needed too according to what they’ve been presented with by their schedule. They’ve won at the home and they’ve won on the road, they’ve beaten two top teams from there own conference (Spurs & Warriors) and they’ve beaten every Eastern Conference foe put forth before them thus far. The type of production from some of there guys will be hard to maintain, mainly Wes Matthews, but if he and the rest of the bunch do, Portland may be a force to wreckin’ with in the Western Conference. I’m buying in early due to the core they have, and the mixture of young talent and veterans with experience they have coming off the bench.