POWER RANKINGS » The Slide Continues In Week 8
It's been a rough few weeks for your Portland Trail Blazers. They've lost five of their last six and seven of 10 -- with the majority of those losses coming by double digits -- and are entering a stretch in which they play six times in 10 days. They rank 30th in defensive rating over their last 10 games and the production from the bench unit, which had been a crucial factor in the team getting off to a better than expected start in the first month of the season, has dipped considerably. In short, the Trail Blazers are in a serious early-season slump, and with as competitive as the West is, they can't afford to let it linger for much longer.
As the Trail Blazers have fallen in the standings, so too have they fallen in the weekly Power Rankings. While they're still seventh in the West at 13-10 and in the upper half of the power rankings, neither of those things will be true at this time next week if they don't turn it around, and quickly.
Onto this week's rankings...
• The panel of voters at ESPN has the Trail Blazers at No. 12 this week, three spots worse than last week...
The Blazers have lost five of the past six games and two straight -- so what's the problem? Portland has been horrible defensively, allowing 123.2 points per game in those five losses. The Blazers have also lost seven of their past 10 games after jumping out to a 10-3 start.
ESPN has the Trail Blazers behind the Grizzlies at No. 11 and ahead of the Rockets at No. 13.
• John Schuhmann at NBA.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 13 this week, seven spots worse than last week...
Pace: 100.8 (18) OffRtg: 111.6 (8) DefRtg: 110.4 (21) NetRtg: +1.2 (16)
The Blazers haven't lost to a bad team since October, and they are an open C.J. McCollum jumper from beating the streaking Nuggets on Friday. But they're 3-7 over the last three weeks, allowing a league-worst 118.2 points per 100 possessions in that stretch (which has taken them from second to seventh in the West). The Denver loss was one of only two in the 3-7 stretch that was within five points in the last five minutes and they needed 41 points from Damian Lillard to edge the Magic (who were without Aaron Gordon) on Wednesday. Their new (old?) starting lineup (with Maurice Harkless back at small forward) is a plus-15 over the last four games, but bench minutes have been a problem. In fact, Zach Collins has registered a negative plus-minus in 10 of his last 11 games.
Shuhmann has the Trail Blazers behind the Celtics at No. 12 and ahead of the Pacers at No. 14.
• Reid Forgrave at CBS Sports.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 10 this week, four spots worse than last week...
The Blazers started the season as hot as anyone, but have lost five of six, albeit against a tough schedule. Simply put, they need another dude to get buckets. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have been awesome; Jusuf Nirkic is the only guy on the team averaging more than nine points per game. But the defense has been the bigger issue. During that six-game stretch, the Blazers have the lowest-rated defense in the NBA.
Forgrave has the Trail Blazers behind the Celtics at No. 9 and ahead of the Grizzlies at No. 11.
• Zach Harper of The Athletic has the Trail Blazers at No. 10 this week, one spot worse than last week...
The Portland Trail Blazers are a little lucky to still be in the top 10. This is the lowest they’ve ranked this entire season, and their season is teetering a bit. Portland has won just once in their last six games, and that one win happened against the Orlando Magic. They barely pulled out a home victory in that win. Milwaukee and Golden State blew them out. The Clippers and Nuggets beat them in close games. Then San Antonio handled them pretty well on Sunday to keep Portland down. This Portland team looked like they could position themselves with their continuity and dynamic backcourt to be a top team in the West.
Now they’re only 1.5 games ahead of New Orleans, Houston, and Sacramento — who are all currently out of the top 8 in the West. Over these last six games, the Blazers have the worst defense in the NBA. Part of this is greatly skewed by the games against Milwaukee and Golden State. However, even in their victory over Orlando, they defended horribly.
Harper has the Trail Blazers behind the Celtics at No. 9 and ahead of the Lakers at No. 11.
• Tommy Beer of Rotoworld.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 12 this week, three spots worse than last week...
The Blazers are trending in the wrong direction. They’ve lost five of their last six games and have allowed over 123 points per loss during this current stretch. Dating back to the start of November, the Blazers rank 27th in Defensive Rating, just behind the Atlanta Hawks.
Beer has the Trail Blazers behind the Grizzlies at No. 11 and ahead of the Pacers at No. 13.
• Khadrice Rollins at SI.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 12 this week, three spots worse than last week...
After Dame Lillard exploded against the Magic to get Portland a win, the squad let one get away against the Nuggets. With the West so tight from top to bottom, the Trail Blazers saw themselves slide down the standings by losing five of their last six. Losing four of those games to teams in the West will also feel like a killer when it’s time for tiebreakers to determine playoff seeding.
Rollins has the Trail Blazers behind the Grizzlies at No. 11 and ahead of the Pacers at No. 13.
• Gerald Bourguet of HoopsHabit.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 15, four spots worse than last week...
On the one hand, Damian Lillard provided one of the most entertaining individual performances of the week, dropping 41 points and a franchise-record 10 3-pointers in a win over the Magic.
On the other hand, if not for that spectacular night, the Portland Trail Blazers might have lost their last six games, the worst of which was a loss to LaMarcus Aldridge and the spiraling Spurs.
Bourguet has the Trail Blazers behind the Rockets at No. 14 and ahead of the Pacers at No. 16.