Power Rankings: Steady Decline Continues In Week Seven

by Casey Holdahl
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Having lost five-straight games, you'd assume the Portland Trail Blazers would find themselves plummeting in the weekly Power Rankings, and they have taken a hit for their losing streak, which continued with a 111-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors Monday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland. But with the NBA being incredibly top heavy almost two months into the regular season, dropping multiple games in a row, while undoubtably a bad thing, doesn't seem to carry the same consequences as similar stumbles in previous seasons. Case in point: the Trail Blazers were in 4th in the West after returning to Portland after going 4-1 on a five-game trip and are now tied for 6th after losing five-straight. Again, that's hardly a good thing, but they're still right in the thick of playoff race, early as it may be.

Though that won't last if their current losing streak goes on much longer. The West might not be as deep as most assumed it would be this season, but going on extended winless stretches is going to catch up to the Trail Blazers sooner rather than later, both in the standings and the weekly rankings.

Here's how the Trail Blazers faired this week...

• The panel of voters at ESPN has the Trail Blazers at No. 14 this week, three spots worse than last week… 

After suffering a fourth straight loss, the Trail Blazers embark on a five-game road trip in which they visit the Warriors, Heat, Magic, Hornets and Timberwolves before returning home to face the Spurs. Portland, however, may be able to withstand it, as its 6-4 record on the road is better than its 7-8 home mark.

ESPN has the Trail Blazes behind the Wizards at No. 13 and ahead of the Thunder at No. 15.

• John Schuhmann of NBA.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 16, also three spots worse than last week...

Pace: 99.5 (14) OffRtg: 103.0 (21) DefRtg: 101.8 (6) NetRtg: +1.1 (12)

The Blazers followed a 4-1 road trip (in which they allowed 102 points per 100 possessions) with an 0-4 homestand (in which they allowed 115), with Bradley Beal and James Harden torching their top-10 defense for a combined 99 points on Tuesday and Saturday. Opponent strength (each of the last four opponents have top-10 offenses) had something to do with it, but they have one more tough game in that regard on Monday. Even with Jusuf Nurkic and Maurice Harkless out against Houston, the starting lineup held up OK. But over the two games last week, the Blazers were outscored by 23 points with at least one reserve on the floor.

Schuhmann has the Trail Blazers behind the Jazz at No. 15 and ahead of the Nuggets at No. 17.

• David Aldridge, also of NBA.com, has the Trail Blazers at No. 15 this week, two spots worse than last week...

Defense is AWOL, and until that gets fixed, the Blazers aren’t going anywhere.

Aldridge has the Trail Blazers behind the Pelicans at No. 14 (Aldridge only does a top 15).

• Kenny Ducey at SI.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 13, three spots worse than last week... 

There was a lot to like about Portland’s epic battle with Houston, whether it was Damian Lillard’s offensive output, Al-Farouq Aminu’s great shooting night or C.J. McCollum’s effort in the fourth. The most encouraging thing, though? It took a blistering hot fourth from James Harden and Chris Paul to beat the Blazers on a night they so desperately missed Jusuf Nurkic out there.

Ducey has the Trail Blazers behind the Thunder at No. 12 and ahead of their next opponent, the Miami Heat, at No. 14.

• The panel of voters at USA Today has the Trail Blazers at No. 11 this week, unchanged from last week... 

The Blazers, who have lost four consecutive games, tip off a five-game road trip in Oakland on Monday night, where they'll take on a Warriors team that beat them by an average of 19.5 points in four games last season.

Only lost by seven this time!

The folks at USA Today have the Trail Blazers behind the Wizards at No. 10 and ahead of the Nuggets at No. 12.

• Sean Deveney of The Sporting News has the Trail Blazers at No. 12 this week...

During their four-game losing streak, the Blazers’ tenuous defense has fallen apart, allowing 50.1 percent from the field and 115.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 29th in that span.

Deveney has the Trail Blazes behind the Wizards at No. 11 and ahead of the Thunder at No. 13.

• Chris Barnewall at CBSSports.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 16, a seven spot drop from last week... 

Portland's defense has been very good so far and deserves praise. Then it ran into a buzz saw of DeMarcus Cousins (38 points), Bradley Beal (51 points) and James Harden (48 points). Even the best defenses can't survive that.

Barnewall has the Trail Blazers behind the 76ers at No. 15 and ahead of the Nuggets at No. 17.

• Gerald Bourguet at Hoops Habit has the Trail Blazers at No. 14 this week, which is also a seven spot drop from last week's ranking...

It feels like the wheels are starting to fall off the wagon for the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard avoiding a more serious injury is great, but four straight losses has Rip City looking like the same middling playoff team they’ve been for half a decade now.

Their losing road record (7-8) is worrisome, Jusuf Nurkic‘s ankle is a constant source of concern and with a five-game road trip coming up that includes stops in Golden State and Minnesota, the Blazers could have a losing record by the time they’re back at the Moda Center.

Actually, that's their home record, though the takeaway is still the same.

Gourguet has the Trail Blazers behind the Pistons at No. 13 and ahead of the Thunder at No. 15.

• Brad Rowland at UPROXX has the Trail Blazes at No. 14, three spots worse than last week (again!)...

Normally, five straight losses would cost a team with Portland’s profile more than three spots but there is some mediocrity in this tier. It does help that the defeats came to playoff-caliber teams but, with four of the five coming at home, the pain is more significant.

Rowland has the Trail Blazers behind the Heat at No. 13 and ahead of the 76ers at No. 15.