Portland Trail Blazers Teach Raptors Why Getting in Shootout with Them is Bad Idea
The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t much been interested in winning games with their defense throughout the first 47 games of the 2013-14 NBA season. Allowing 105.4 points per 100 possessions this year, making them the 22nd ranked defense in the league, they have clearly relied on their offense to carry them to victory.
What’s been incredible with the Blazers, though, is the fact that their offense has been good enough to where defense hasn’t really mattered. Portland is currently tied atop the NBA for the league’s best offense with the Miami Heat, netting 109.5 points per 100 possessions.
On Saturday night as Portland took on the Toronto Raptors, the Raps allowed the Trail Blazers to dictate the pace of the game, which ultimately resulted in an offensive shootout. As you might expect, that’s exactly what the Blazers were hoping for and capitalized upon it as they secured a 106-103 victory, their 34th of the year.
DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas did their part in trying to keep up with the Blazers as they combined for 77 points on 29-55 shooting. As has often been the case in Blazers games this season, the Raptors didn’t have enough weapons to match the abundant weapons in Portland’s lineup.
While the Trail Blazers bench contributed just 11 points combined between five players on the night, their starters came up huge. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 87 points on 28-58 shooting and 7-15 three-poing shooting on the night.
When you look at this Portland team, they can beat you in so many ways on the offensive end of the floor. Aldridge can tear defenses up inside and out; Matthews can fill it up from long-range; Batum can also be a perimeter threat, but also a threat off of the dribble; and Lillard can beat you in just about any way he pleases on any given night. All of that doesn’t even factor in that this team is also one of the best in the NBA in terms of ball-movement. They’ve been great this season at finding open men, making extra passes, and other things that are often taken for granted.
The Trail Blazers are bound for a high seed in the Western Conference when the playoffs roll around and it’s been their offense that has carried them to where they sit now. The intriguing factor in all of this, though, is how this style-of-play will translate to a more defensive-minded postseason. While teams that rely as heavily as Portland does on their offense to get victories don’t have a track-record of playoff success, this Blazers team may be the exception. The stars are there in Portland in Lillard and Aldridge, but this is a team effort on offense every night, which could make them the exception when the postseason rolls around.