Thursday’s 114-83 loss to the Spurs snapped the Trail Blazers’ 10-game win streak at home. They are now 10-2 at home, but it’s their lousy road record of 1-10 that is really lowering their overall record.
After Thursday’s five-game list, Portland is ninth in the West with an 11-12 record under its new coaching staff led by Chauncey Billups.
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While the former NBA champion and Finals MVP had a lot to say coming into work regarding how the team would change, but about a quarter of the way into the 2023-22 season, the team still faces and tries to overcome. The same problem that has haunted them for the past few years.
After 23 games, their 111.8 defensive rating ranks 28th in the league, only putting them ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies (29) and New Orleans Pelicans.
This lousy play at one end of the court often reverses the impact of the offense, which is not only ranked in the Top 10 this season, but has been among the best in the league in recent seasons.
|Season||Defensive rating (range)||Offensive rating (range)|
|2019-20||114.3 (27º)||113.2 (3rd)|
|2020-21||115.3 (29º)||117.1 (second)|
|2021-22 (23 games)||111.8 (28º)||110.4 (eighth)|
Everything has gone downhill, as illustrated in the table above, since the 2017-18 season when they finished with the sixth-best defensive rating in the league.
Failure to change things, especially on that end of the court for the past two seasons, among other things, led to the mutual separation after nine years between the team and former head coach Terry Stotts.
However, nothing seems to have changed with the new head coach. It’s still early days, but a team with the kind of talent at its disposal shouldn’t and can’t be so low in the league’s defense rankings.
They allow their opponents to score 110.2 points per game, which places them 24th in the league. They are near the bottom of the 3-point defense ranking, allowing an average of 13.7 triples per game (27th) with an efficiency of 38.1 percent (28th).
These overall defensive numbers appear to drop further to 119.1, the worst in the league when playing on the road, a big reason for their dismal 1-10 record away from Moda Center.
For the team to make any legitimate postseason run, led by his All-NBA talent in Damian Lillard, his effort and performance on that end of the court must see a rebound.
If not, they could extend their best active playoff streak in the NBA, but they will remain in the bottom half with only first-round outings to their display name.