Trip Starts in New Jersey
It’s not like there’s ever a good time for a four-game road trip to the other coast, but… I know, I know, we’ve mentioned so often in the past that road trips can be the perfect opportunity for a team to come together, bond emotionally, and perhaps earn back a sense of urgency. We’ve always meant it, and there’s certainly some proof that it can be effective.
The last couple of seasons, the Trail Blazers have used road trips to post some of their more impressive victories and have been very good at building momentum while away from home. Perhaps it’s the “us-against-the-world” mentality that is gained by being in hostile territory, or maybe it’s simply that being away from home cuts down on distractions and forces a team to focus better on the task at hand.
This probably sounds like I’m reaching, or trying to suggest that this is somehow a major crossroads in this season for the Trail Blazers. Even though I wouldn’t say it’s a major crossroads, I do think we’re about to learn a thing or two about where this team is at emotionally.
Clearly, they’ve got reason to down and there are several excuses they could be tossing out there at this time if they wanted. Take your pick- untimely injuries, the loss of a friend, a brutal early-season schedule. But, it makes no difference to start all over again suggesting these things. And, I haven’t heard the players and coaches talking about such things.
The last two games have been frustrating, obviously. On Friday night the Trail Blazers looked good at times, early in the game, but seemed to lose all confidence at the first sign of trouble. Against the Jazz last Saturday the situation was similar. We’ve come to expect this team to buckle down in crunch time and win the close games, as they have done the last two seasons. Last year they were particularly good in tight games.
We even saw that early this season, when the Trail Blazers won their first three games thanks to huge fourth quarters. Lately, that hasn’t been there, and there is reason to be concerned.
So, following a late night Friday, and a long flight to the other coast, we get set to tackle this four-game trip. It starts against the Nets, in Newark on Sunday. That’ll be followed by games at Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington.
I will say that it’s pretty amazing that we’re only 15 games into this season. It seems like a lot more than that, given all that has happened. And, even though things haven’t gone their way lately, they are still above .500. So, even though the last two games did raise issues, we are still early.
So, for you, a couple of questions. Is this crossroads time for this team? What are the issues in your mind, and why do things feel so unsatisfying through one month of the season?
We’ll have a lot more to talk about following the first game of this trip. I agree that we’ll learn a lot over the next week, as we always have during long trips. I don’t know what your expectations are for this trip, but I’d also like to hear those as well.
Talk to you on the air from New Jersey on Sunday night.