PORTLAND,OR — It seems Rip City has gotten their swagger back! The Trail Blazers had yet another sensational performance on Thursday night, in a 117-107 win against the Houston Rockets. Blazers now have won a season-high 5 straight and have a stellar 13-3 record in the month of March.
This recent surge could not have come at a better time, as they are now one game away from a .500 record and have a 1.5 game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the 8th and final seed in the playoffs.
Blazers are an immensely talented bunch but have struggled with consistency for most of the season. Which begs the question, why the sudden turnaround?
There are many variables that have contributed to the Blazers success, which include general manager Neil Olshey’s brilliant acquisition of center Jusuf Nurkic. He has averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds since joining the team. He has brought something to the team center Mason Plumlee didn’t have — a strong low-post presence on offense and grit.
Another contributor to the recent success has been their defense. In the last 15 games, Blazers have averaged 45.8 rebounds (6th) and a defensive rating of 103.9 per 100 possessions (8th), which ranks top 10 in the NBA. Couple that with the already deadly scoring capability of star Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum equals a 13-3 record in March.
The Deadly duo has averaged about 52.4 points per game during that span and are ranked among the best in the NBA.
However, it is still too early to celebrate. With seven games remaining it would be in the best interest for the Blazers to win the rest of their games and try to move up to the 7th seed to avoid playing the high-powered offense of the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
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