Going into the 2017-18 NBA season, there were a few question marks about how the Blazers would perform. With the trade of Allen Crabbe to the Nets and the strengthening of other Western Conference teams during the offseason, it was estimated by fans and news coverage that the team would fall low in rankings and maybe even miss out on a playoff spot. Despite these challenges, the Blazers have been performing above expectations, and beating the odds.
The team started with a strong pre-season, winning almost every game and finishing with a record of 3-1. They have continued to battle in the regular season, maintaining a record of 12 wins and 8 losses, and ranking fifth in the Western Conference as of November 26. Their key to success so far has been the performance of their big three: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic. Their compatibility on the court and their individual ability to score many points each has created an unstoppable offense during games. Their defense has also been surprisingly solid thus far. “The defensive ability of Nurkic can’t be overstated as he has proven himself to be a solid anchor to lead an already strong front court,” states Blazers fan, Max Berger (11). Guys like Shabazz Napier and Pat Cannington in the offence are also able to come off the bench for a quick offensive spark when needed.
With the team’s current success also comes drawbacks. The biggest problem so far for the Blazers has been closing games late. “Whether it’s a defensive breakdown, a late turnover, or simply stagnant offense, our execution has been weak,” says Berger.
Playoff eligibility will depend on whether other Western Conference teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans continue to underperform and how well the Blazers can address their problem with finishing games. “I think if we can figure out a unit we can put out there and trust during crunch time, then we should have no problem securing playoff birth and might even be able to move up a spot or two,” said Berger.