NBA Portland Trail Blazers

5 Keys to Portland Trail Blazers’ 2014 NBA Title Hopes

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5 Keys For Blazers' Title Hopes

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Chris Humphreys – USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have been one of the nicest stories through the first half of the NBA season so far.

The team coached by Terry Stotts went from being a team that lost 13 consecutive games while failing to reach the playoffs last year to a squad that now is one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Now they appear to be a lock not only to make the postseason but to make some serious noise come playoff time.

But the job is not done by any means, and the reality is the Blazers still have a lot of work to do if they really want to contend once the playoffs kick off this season.

The Blazers don’t have a consistent bench to start with, and they are heavily dependent on their starters. Despite having All-Star players like Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, they are the only two “go-to” guys on the offense so they could easily use a few more players to ease the scoring burden. In addition to that, the team isn’t very strong on the defensive side of the ball, and they need some help to either protect the rim or guard the perimeter.

The reality is that Portland has legitimate concerns on both ends of the court. While there’s no secret that their success will depend a lot on how the standings of the West end up, they still need to add a few more pieces to truly contend.

These are five things they need to solve immediately if they want to make a deep playoff run this season.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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5. Consistency

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Jaime Valdez – USA TODAY Sports

The Blazers need to be consistent every single night to have a chance to contend. They don’t have enough depth to allow a night off from their starters, so the only way they have to make noise is if their key players give their all night in and night out.

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4. Add Scoring Off The Bench

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Craig Mitchelldyer - USA TODAY Sports

The Blazers have go-to guys in Lillard and Aldridge, but their second unit isn’t very strong when it comes to scoring. They would be wise to add a piece to improve the scoring off the bench.

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3. LaMarcus Aldridge

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Craig Mitchelldyer - USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star forward has been the leader this season and has taken his play to another level this year. The PF seems to be key player on both ends of the court, and he’s the catalyst of the franchise. He will be needed if the Blazers want to make a deep playoff run.

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2. Solve Their Defensive Woes

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Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports

The Blazers have one of the best offenses in the league, but it’s no secret that they aren’t very good on the other side of the ball. They need to improve their rim protection and their perimeter defense if they want to have any chance to contend against the likes of the Golden State Warriors or the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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1. Starting Lineup Chemistry

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The key for the Blazers to have a deep playoff run is to maintain the chemistry in their starting lineup. The group of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez has been as consistent as it gets. The Blazers are the only team to have repeated the starting five all season long, and they need to maintain that kind of chemistry in order to have some chance to make noise come playoff time.