Skip to content

Trail Blazers headed toward same trouble as last season

Nov 18, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard

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?

Not quite.

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.

image

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday night’s games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Wizards blow out Raptors to complete first-round sweep

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

    Another stellar performance from John Wall buries Toronto’s season.

  2. Watch Chris Paul, Blake Griffin combine for big days to even Clippers with Spurs (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT

    Blake Griffin, ,Chris Paul Blake Griffin, ,Chris Paul

    The Clippers needed their big stars to step up Sunday or they were going to be in a very deep hole. They got it.

  3. Chris Paul scores 34 points, Clippers win Game 4 to even series with Spurs

    Apr 26, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Tiago Splitter, Chris Paul AP

    Blake Griffin grabbed 19 rebounds, and Austin Rivers (!) chipped in 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench.

  4. Report: Sixers to select D’Angelo Russell in 2015 NBA Draft

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Ohio State v Indiana AP

    “He’s the guy they want,” the report says.

  5. LaMarcus Aldridge flew back to Portland after Game 2 loss while rest of Blazers stayed in Memphis

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

    Players were given the option by the team’s GM, but Aldridge — who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer — was the only one who chose to leave.

  6. Grizzlies start fast, hang on to beat Portland, take 3-0 series lead

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:37 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Memphis’ offense was the best it has looked this series.

  7. Bucks outwork Bulls, stay alive on Jerryd Bayless game-winner

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Milwaukee forced 26 Chicago turnovers, a season high.

Featured video

Stephen Curry starting to define playoff legacy
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Parsons (4703)
  2. R. Rondo (4456)
  3. D. Lee (4160)
  4. K. Durant (4126)
  5. N. Mirotic (4061)
  1. J. Holiday (3844)
  2. K. Bryant (3824)
  3. P. George (3777)
  4. T. Parker (3758)
  5. D. Rose (3675)