The Trail Blazers have been tipped to be surprise title contenders, with Charles Barkley claiming that they could beat the LA Lakers and make the NBA finals this season. While that might be a bit of a stretch, the Portland Trail Blazers certainly have the ability to surprise teams in the playoffs.
Five reasons why Portland Trail Blazers could surprise teams in the playoffs:
The Portland Trail Blazers’ best player this campaign has been Damian Lillard, who has come up with some extremely clutch plays.
Lillard is averaging almost 30 points a game, along with tallying 7.8 assists. He has arguably been the best player this season in the Western Conference.
On that note, let's have a look at five reasons why the Portland Trail Blazers could go on a deep run in the playoffs this season:
#1 Offensive Prowess
The Portland Trail Blazers, like most teams in the NBA this season, have had their struggles in the absence of key players.
They have had to rely on the likes of Damian Lillard and Gary Trent Jr., with the latter being a deadline-day trade.
The addition of Norman Powell, the return of Nurkic and McCollum, along with Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter and Anfernee Simmons coming off the bench, means the Portland Trail Blazers' offense could get more potent. That augurs well for their postseason hopes and beyond.
#2 Return of injured players
The Portland Trail Blazers have fought their way to their current position despite missing the likes of CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Zach Collins, another bench player, is also out, probably for the rest of the season.
The Trail Blazers haven’t had a run of games with all their key stars available. But come the playoffs, the offensive threat of the Portland Trail Blazers could overwhelm the meanest of defenses if all their stars are fit and firing.
#3 Multiple 3-point threats
The Portland Trail Blazers, arguably, have the best set of distance shooters in the NBA.
For the Portland Trail Blazers to beat teams like the LA Lakers, they would require the likes of Lillard, Robert Covington and McCollum catching fire from the 3-point zone. If that happens, other teams will be wary of facing the Trail Blazers in the playoffs.
Additionally, Carmelo Anthony can be lethal from distance, while Anfernee Simmons is also a capable three-point shooter that the Portland Trail Blazers can rely on from the bench.
Overall, their top stars haven’t had a lot of games together. But if they do so come the playoffs, the Trail Blazers would be more than capable of pulling games from the 3-point zone.
#4 Improved prowess of the returning Jusuf Nurkic
During Jusuf Nurkic’s injury rehabilitation, he ended up losing around 30 pounds, which could help him make further improvement in his rim-protection and offensive game-play.
Since his return two games ago, the Portland Trail Blazers have won both outings.
While he still looks some way from his best, Nurkic has proven that he is one of the best centers in the NBA.
In his absence, Enes Kanter had been the starting center, but Nurkic is better than Kanter at both ends of the court. With his new frame expected to bolster his defensive and offensive prowess further, the Portland Trail Blazers might be getting back to their best at just the right time.
#5 Defensive improvement
While the Portland Trail Blazes’ strength lies in offence, they have defended reasonably well during recent weeks.
New addition Norman Powell has the ability to defend smaller forwards and could prove his worth in the coming weeks. Moreover, Robert Covington has also shown an improvement in overall intensity, producing eight blocks and four steals in his last two games,
With further overall improvement expected after Jusuf Nurkic's return, the Portland Trail Blazers might surprise teams with their defense