Mike Heath's Blog

Mike Heath

Feb 02

Assessing The Trail Blazers Through Twenty Games: A Tale of Two Teams

By Mike Heath Posted in: Lakers, Nuggets
Portland is averaging 104 points per game at the Rose Garden.  On the road, they're averaging 90.7 points per game.  That difference in scoring of 13.3 points per game is a big problem and the reason they're barely able to stay above .500 at 12-8. 

At home, the Blazers have beaten Western Conference foes like the Lakers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets, and Suns.  However, they've also lost to the Clippers and Suns on the road, as well as the Spurs, Rockets, Hawks, Pistons, and Warriors.  Other than the Spurs and Suns losses, all those were fairly close heartbreakers by 8 points or less.  The Blazers had their opportunities to win late in the games, but couldn't find a way to do so.  Even the San Antonio game was tied going into the fourth quarter...and then Portland fell apart and got outscored by 16 points.

The only loss at the Rose Garden was at the hand of the Orlando Magic.  Portland was a little worn out after defeating the Clippers the night before and it showed in the first quarter of the Orlando game.  The Magic jumped out to an 8-0 lead and the Blazers didn't score until 9:03 left in the quarter.  Orlando led by 14 points after one quarter, 12 at the half, and 17 after three.  Portland finally woke up and outscored the Magic by 14 in the fourth quarter, offsetting the lopsided first quarter.  But, it wasn't enough as the final tally was 107-104, Orlando.  I really think this was just a tough game to get into after the emotional win over the Clippers.  Had the Blazers had a day off in between, I have no doubt they would be 10-0 at home.

Portland's best road win came in Oklahoma City, 103-93.  They played with a ferocity and focus against their division rivals as if they were at the Rose Garden.  Blazers trailed after one, but won the second, third, and fourth quarters to secure the win.  I think they found a little something extra for this one because it was a division game and they wanted to get back on track after losing to the Clippers two nights prior.  The other two road wins for Portland came in New Orleans (84-77) and Toronto (94-84) during a six-game road trip on which they had a 2-4 record.  However, it was a little concerning that the Blazers had led New Orleans and Toronto by about twice as much as the final margin before getting their lead cut down.  They might not have lost, but it was too close for comfort.

I know the Rose Garden is the best place to play if you're a Blazer and that it must be hard to go on the road and win.  But if the Blazers want to be taken seriously and be considered an elite team, they need to find some kind of focus and determination to close out teams away from the Garden.  You know how they say that when you're giving a speech you should picture everyone in their underwear?  Well, the Blazers need to picture the Rose Garden full of Blazer fans whenever they leave home.  I saw someone holding up a sign the other night that said something to the effect of "know that we're with you when you're on the road".  That's definitely true...most of you are probably screaming at the TV like me, right?  I think my apartment neighbors are going to start complaining, by the way.  Anyway, Portland has to keep that in mind and play as if we're all there cheering them on because that seems to be why they succeed at home.  Otherwise, they will stay in the bottom half of the playoff teams, never get homecourt advantage, and never get out of the first round...it's a vicious circle, but I know they can break it.  They have the veteran savvy and the youth to keep going when they're tired, but they just need that killer instinct to finish off teams on the road.  So, guys, go find it!  Buy it on eBay if you have to, but please, be the team I know you can be.

1 Comments

  1. it really has been a tale of two teams. i wonder if the Rose Garden is such an advantage, that playing anywhere else is as big a disadvantage. that's just one girl's theory, i suppose. i agree that we won't be considered an elite team until we win a few more road games.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/6/2012 3:32 PM
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