Nov 18, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT
I was the only member of this site’s staff to predict the Trail Blazers would make the playoffs. Now, Portland is 8-2, the NBA’s third-best record behind only the Spurs and Pacers.
Time to gloat?
The Trail Blazers started 20-15 last season, heavily relying on their starting lineup. At that point of the season, Portland’s starters played 72 percent of the team’s minutes, tops in the league. That heavy load proved too taxing, as the Trail Blazers faded to a 33-49 finish.
A year later, the starters have changed, but Portland coach Terry Stotts is using the same strategy. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez – the Trail Blazers’ starters in all 10 games – have played 72 percent of the team’s minutes, again No. 1 in the NBA.
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There are encouraging signs for the Trail Blazers, though.
Mo Williams, acquired as a free agent this summer, has played much more (26.9 minutes per game) than any Portland reserve did last season. Dorell Wright (14.4 minutes per game) has shot well and could probably handle more minutes. Thomas Robinson has shown flashes, and maybe he could fill a bigger role, too. C.J. McCollum has been injured, but later in the season, perhaps he carves out a spot in the rotation.
And maybe after doing it last year, Lillard, Matthews, Batum and Aldridge are more equipped to handle big minutes.
It would be extremely presumptuous to assume the Trail Blazers will fade like last season. But, once again, they’re going to have to deal with their starters playing a ton of minutes.
It’s not an insurmountable challenge, but it’s a challenge they didn’t meet last year.
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Oct 24, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT
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Oct 24, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Could forward leave the Magic in 2016?
Oct 24, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
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Oct 24, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
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Phil Jackson says the triangle is not rocket science.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT
Pacers center filling huge role after last season’s great start, big collapse
Oct 24, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
Childress, who played for Pelicans last season, now playing (dirty) in Australia
Oct 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Are Heat stars too old to succeed without LeBron James?
Oct 24, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Paul Pierce, Otto Porter or Martell Webster – all intriguing for different reasons – could become Washington’s starting small forward
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Magic guard to have surgery Saturday
Oct 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
All hail the Brow.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Van Gundy downplayed the offense’s impact on a team’s success, and Jackson co-signs.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Four teams and the obvious choice of Cleveland.
Lance Stephenson says Pacers setting deadline to re-sign forced him to look elsewhere in free agency
Oct 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
It’s possible Indiana did this on purpose.
Oct 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Filmed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, “Becoming” includes rarely seen footage from LeBron James’ earliest days in sports.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
Noel isn’t ready to stop that much power going to the rim yet.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Spurs big man just won’t stop producing great seasons
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
That’s real artistry by the Heat star
Oct 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Why is Houston’s general manager downplaying his own team’s success?
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