There’s no denying that many people wrote off the Trailblazers for the 2016 season because they have a young team who many people have said is rebuilding but in spite of where many analysts predicted they would be at the start of the season this team hasn’t quit.
Their latest road trip to the East Coast was another excellent example that they won’t just lay down and let any team walk alll over them. Although they’ve been able to play the underdog this season the reality is that many teams are now expecting the Trailblazers to bring their A Game to town so the Blazers can’t take other teams by surprise any more.
The trip ended up a .500 proposition for Portland, which isn’t bad for a middle-of-the-road team on a long roadie to the other side of the continent. The way those games turned out, and who the Blazers beat and lost to, isn’t all that surprising; Chicago and Indiana kicked off the road trip, and Portland, still riding high from the momentum gathered on a home-heavy schedule and a humongous upset of the Golden State Warriors, eked past the Bulls and dominated the Pacers.
The Blazers then defeated a New York Knicks team that is of two minds, according to ESPNNewYork.com. Phil Jackson and the front office want wins, but the Knicks should be giving their young players, especially Kristaps Porzingis, as many minutes and as much responsibility as they can handle. The Knicks aren’t making the playoffs, but they don’t have their first-round draft pick this year, either. That pick is in the hands of the Toronto Raptors, a probable top-10 selection that is the crown jewel of the highway robbery Raptors honcho Masai Ujiri pulled on New York in the Andrea Bargiani trade a couple years ago.
Speaking of the Raptors, after a blowout loss to the Boston Celtics, Portland played Toronto in what proved to be a barnburner of a game. Damian Lillard turned it on in the fourth quarter, scoring 22 points in the final frame en route to his second 50-point game since the All-Star break (I think he still might be pissed about being left off the team. Just maybe.), but it was in a losing effort. The Raptors squeaked out a two-point win which both affirmed their status as a solid sub-contender behind Cleveland in the East, and showed the Blazers that they still need to find another gear if they want to make noise in April.
The Trail Blazers aren’t sneaking up on anybody anymore, unfortunately. The Toronto game proved that.
Source – Seattlepi.com