5 Reasons Why Portland Trail Blazers Aren’t For Real in 2014
The Trail Blazers Aren't Quite Contenders Yet
The Portland Trail Blazers have surprised nearly everyone in the NBA this year. While many anticipated them being a mediocre team that may or may not make the playoffs, Coach Terry Stotts' team has one of the better records in the league and have hopes of a deep playoff run.
The Blazers have been led this season by the duo of power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard. Aldridge is having a career season, posting 23.7 points per game to go along with 10.9 rebounds and one block per game. His incredibly efficient offensive play is backed by his great defensive play on the other end of the floor.
Coming off of his Rookie of the Year season, Lillard is having a great year thus far, averaging 21.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Not only is he putting up great numbers, but he has already hit a few exciting and clutch game-winners for the Blazers this year.
The supporting cast of starters on the Trail Blazers is also noteworthy. Nic Batum has been playing great offensively and has already notched a couple of triple-doubles this season. Offseason acquisition Robin Lopez has surprised some with his defensive energy and rebounding. Wesley Matthews has done a great job of scoring and is shooting an efficient 48 percent from the field.
But are the Trail Blazers for real? They are currently 28-9 and are showing no signs of slowing down in a very competitive Western Conference. However, the Trail Blazers have some serious inefficiencies that keep them from being a great team with a shot at a championship.
5. Weak Bench
The Trail Blazers currently rank 29th in the league in terms of bench points a game with 23.7. If Portland wants to be a serious contender, their bench play is going to have to step up when the starters rest.
4. Inexperience of Damian Lillard
The reigning Rookie of the Year has really stepped up his game this year, averaging 21.6 points per game. However, the second-year point guard has never played in a playoff game and lacks the tried-and-true experience that stars usually have when making big playoff pushes.
3. Poor Defensive Play
The Trail Blazers' defense has not been very impressive this year. They are tied for 26th in the league in terms of points allowed per game with 102.9. Furthermore, they only force 11.6 turnovers a game, which is bad enough for last in the league.
2. Shallow Presence Down Low
Portland doesn't have much of a presence down low on either side of the floor when LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez are both not in the game. The Trail Blazers have to turn to the non-threatening trifecta of Thomas Robinson, Myers Leonardand Joel Freeland when they go to their reserves down low.
1. Too Much Reliance on 3-Pointer
The Blazers are the best 3-point shooting team in the league, shooting a superb 39.5 percent from behind the arc. However, heavy reliance on the 3-pointer can be a curse if your team gets cold at the wrong time, especially in the playoffs.