Humble Matthews Excels In Return To The Starting Lineup
By sarahhecht Posted in: WesleyMatthews
Wesley Matthews was a bright spot in the Rose Garden tonight as the Trail Blazers fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 116-87. But don’t ask him about his stand-out performance, because to Matthews the team comes first.
“My game doesn’t even matter because we didn’t win” he said. “I’m just trying to do anything I can to help the team win.”
Putting the squad at the top of the priority list is a quality fans and teammates alike value highly. It’s the life-blood of successful camaraderie off the court and essential to chemistry on it. But sometimes, just sometimes, looking beyond the team to an individual’s accomplishments is important.
Tonight it’s justified.
In his last three games, including tonight, Matthews has consistently performed at a level higher than we’ve seen so far in this condensed season. The numbers tell the story.
In Chicago he scored 18 points on 55 percent shooting. He was 4-of-5 from downtown. Two days later in Oklahoma City he shot 50 percent and was a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Tonight, he shot 46 percent from the field, drained 5-of-7 from distance and tied LaMarcus Aldridge with 21 points—they were the high-scorers of the game. Add to that a total of three assists, six steals, 12 rebounds and blocked shot and his stat lines are even more impressive.
This is marked improvement for Matthews who shot 45 percent from the field last season and 48 percent the year before, but has fallen to 42 percent this season. The disparity becomes even greater when his 36 percent three-point shooting is compared to last seasons 41 percent. Though he adamantly proclaims he’s not a three-point shooter the numbers don’t lie. Shooting 12-of-15 from range over three nights makes you a threat, even if you don’t consider it a specialty.
Those numbers certainly tell the truth about his advancement in the last three instances the Trail Blazers have taken the floor.
But like I said, don’t ask him about it.
Ever humble—sometimes to the point of frustration for me—he often deflects any questions asked about his own game and redirects to the team as a whole. Tonight when I asked him to sum up his performances over the last three games he gently shook his head and said, “You know I don’t like questions like that.”
It’s true, I do know. But when your game has recently excelled after a season plagued thus far with struggles you get an article from me. And it’ll be a positive one.
What he would say was this, Interim Head Coach Kaleb Canales knows his game well and with returning to the starting lineup he’s back in his comfort zone.
“I know K trusts me a lot and what I can bring,” Matthews said. “I’m just going out there and playing hoops. I’m getting back to what I’m used to doing.”
Whatever it is that’s changed for him, I’m glad it did. And even though he’s apprehensive to speak about his individual performance he’s earned some time in the spotlight. So here’s to many more deflected answers after top-notch performances.