The Portland Trail Blazers have seen their share of struggles down the stretch of the 2013-14 NBA regular season and their demoralizing loss to the Charlotte Bobcats didn’t help matters. Anytime that your team goes out and gets handled by 30 point at the hands of a team from the “lesser conference,” it’s certainly not a good thing.
The Blazers were a wreck against Charlotte in the 124-94 loss. Their often troublesome defense allowed the Bobcats to shoot 52.1 percent from the floor and 8-19 from the floor. As if that weren’t enough of a death-blow, though, their offense failed to do anything efficiently as they shot only 40.5 percent from the field and hit only nine of their 27 attempts from long-range. Moreover, the Bobcats out-rebounded Portland 50-36 on the evening.
What this game against Charlotte really highlighted was just how badly the Blazers need to get LaMarcus Aldridge back in the lineup. The star power forward has been out for the past five games and while the Trail Blazers are 3-2 over that time, they’ve hardly played like a team that would inspire confidence heading into the postseason.
Obviously Aldridge isn’t going to do a great deal for Portland’s defense when he gets back on the floor, that area widely noted as one of the shortcomings of the power forward. However, Aldridge’s ability to attack the glass for rebounds and to provide the offense with an incredibly versatile option offensively has been greatly missed in his absence.
This Trail Blazers team is essentially set up to find success by outscoring opponents. That’s much harder to do, though, when their shooters aren’t given more space to operate on the perimeter. Aldridge normally demands enough attention to help free those shooters up. When he’s off the floor, though, that space is harder to come by.
It’s a near-lock that the Trail Blazers are going to be in the postseason. However, they haven’t looked like a team capable of making any noise with Aldridge out of the lineup. He’ll likely be back soon, but it couldn’t come soon enough for Portland to get back on track and possibly garner some kind of momentum heading into the playoffs.