After Two In A Row Wesley Matthews Is Feeling A Flow
By sarahhecht Posted in: WesleyMatthews
It’s no secret shooting woes have plagued the Portland Trail Blazers guards for the better part of this season. You could even go as far as to say the back court as a whole is in a slump. Normally that statement would be absurd, individuals go through slumps not and entire crew, but in this case it’s true.
A prime example of this plague of poor shooting is guard Wesley Matthews. An incredibly reliable shooter last year, Matthews was the steal of the off-season. As a sophomore in the league he shot 45 percent from the floor and 41 percent from long-range. He quickly developed a reputation in Rip City not only a defense specialist but an offensive threat as well.
Naturally, it was expected that his lights-out shooting would continue this season, but instead he’s struggled. Ever-confident in his abilities and his dedication to his craft, Matthews has expectations for himself far above and beyond what any coach could place on his shoulders. This confidence pushes him to believe he contributes on the floor even if his shooting percentages aren’t where he wants them to be.
“I feel like every shot I shoot is supposed to go in, so it’s frustrating when they don’t with the mentality that I have,” Matthews said. “I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a three-point shooter, I’m not. I’m a slasher, I can score in every which way. Getting to the free throw line, getting a layup, that kinda stuff is what fuels me and then everything else opens up.”
Matthews has worked tirelessly through his shooting difficulties. When his outside shots weren’t falling he finished at the rim and got to the foul line. He impacted the game in other ways while waiting, and knowing, his shot would come.
It started two nights ago at Golden State. Matthews scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor. He drained three of his four shots from downtown and shot 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
Then tonight, during the third quarter of the twentieth game of the season, Matthews seemed to break through. Every single one of his 16 points was scored in a fury that saw him shoot 6-of-7 from the floor in the quarter, 4-of-5 from long range. On the night as a whole he hit 6-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-7 from downtown.
“Tonight he came out, he worked, he took his shot when it was there and didn’t hesitate,” Head Coach Nate McMillan said. “He was looking for it and shot it with confidence. It was good to see the ball go in the hole for him.”
Good for the team, good for the fans and more importantly, good for Wesley Matthews. It doesn’t take much to bust a slump, but it usually doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye either. The next few games will be the test to truly tell if he’s left his shooting frustrations behind him.
“This is two games now of pretty decent shooting so hopefully this is it. I’m not really thinking like I gotta get out of this slump, I gotta do this to get out of this slump,” Matthew said. “I just gotta keep playing basketball. I’m not gonna keep missing. I’m not gonna miss forever.”
As the Trail Blazers guards continue to work to improve their percentages from the field it’s comforting to see a familiar and influential shooter begin to catch his stride. And you can bet when he really gets it going he’ll be stronger than we’ve ever seen him. That’s just who he is.