The Portland Trail Blazers struggle on defense again as the Cleveland Cavaliers steam roll them in 137-125 loss, on Wednesday night. The Blazers were handed their second-straight loss and are now 1-4 during the five game road trip.
What is contributing to their poor defense and how do they fix it?
The Blazers have never had an outstanding defense but it was enough to get the job done. Last season, the Blazers allowed 104.3 points per game (T-18) but this year they have seen a seven point uptick and are allowing 111.9 ppg (28th).
One of the major factors of there struggling defense is the injury to combo forward Al-Farouq Aminu who is probably the best defender on the team. He has been sidelined with a calf strain that he suffered during a 124-121 win over the Phoenix Suns.
The second major issue is, the lack of production from their re-signed players. Notably, SG Allen Crabbe and PF Meyers Leonard. They have not lived up to their expectations. Crabbe is averaging 9.4 points on 28.9 minutes per game. Despite his increase in minutes he has underperformed thus far. As for Leonard, he is averaging just 5.6 ppg and 3.1 rebounds per game, which are both lower than his average last season. These two players will need to contribute more if the Blazers want to continue their success from last season.
How can they fix the defense?
The best way to fix the defense is obviously shuffle around the lineup so they are more balanced. When star PG Damian Lillard (28.4 points per game)and SG C.J. McCollum (21.9 points per game) are on the field together they are a feared offensive duo but a huge liability on defense. A way to balance this out is to add SG/SF Evan Turner and PF Ed Davis to the starting lineup. Turner is a plus defender and can contribute some on offense and Davis is a solid defender and a fierce rebounder. Also, center Mason Plumlee will round out the starting five. Although, he is not a great rim protector but he is a good facilitator and doesn’t mind getting dirty in the paint.
This way the explosive offensive duo can play together without compromising the defense.
If that is not a good option it will be better to start Crabbe and have McCollum come of the bench as he is every bit good as Lillard passing the ball. This way both the bench and starting lineup will be more effective.
Regardless, of what Blazers coach Terry Stotts decides to do they will be facing the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans again during their three game home stand. Blazers will need to adjust the lineup and figure out how to stop or slow down Rockets SG James Harden and Pelicans forward Anthony Davis.
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