As the Portland Trail Blazers continue to see a zigzag movement in their season, lead coach Chauncey Billups is growing anxious of his team.
And after the second straight tough defeat, this time to the Boston Celtics, wherein the 16,143 spectators within Moda Center have seen a 28-point meltdown, the rookie tactician fires shots to his starter players for being unmotivated and “soft”.
“We’ve been making a habit of that,” Billups said. “Playing really soft at the start of the games and then we depend on our bench to kind of get us back in it. A lot of times they do.”
The C’s were off to a great start at the last two minutes of the first period, tallying a 21-point margin against the Blazers. The home squad then put their foot into the gas pedal, igniting a 19-3 scoring blitz to split Boston’s deficit to two in the remaining 3:24 of the second quarter.
But, the comeback has burned to ashes for Portland. Behind the brilliance of Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schroeder, the Celtics outmatched them and ended the third salvo with a 103-94 lead. As guard CJ McCollum took an exit out of the game due to a rib injury in the 4th, the plans for a possible late game rally were scrapped, as Boston pulled away with 145 total markers — the most that the Portland ball club has given in its regulation history.
“Even at halftime, I said to them ‘I don’t understand. I’ve never seen a team that we need our bench to inspire our starters.’ And that sh-t is crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around. We continue to do that.”
McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Dennis Smith Jr. had a good night, combining for 63 markers, 13 assists and 10 boards. Still, as much as it seems positive in the stat sheet, they allowed the visiting Bean Town to barrage and embarrass them in their home turf, as Oregon-born point man Payton Pritchard even put on a show and received cheers with 19 points, 3 dimes and 2 boards in 18 minutes.
Billups understands the horrifying struggles of the Trail Blazers. The squad, after handing 145 points to the East coast opponent, has now fallen from the cliff and landed in the dead last of the league’s defensive rating through the first 24 games of the season with 113.3. It is a concerning thing, and indeed a must tackle within the organization even having a top five offense so far with 110.7.
As franchise centerpiece Damian Lillard presently rests himself due to an abdominal strain, the urge to smash the panic mode seems starting right now, as they are now holding an 11-13 record and filling the 10th spot of the Western Conference. The window is now slowly closing for those teams who remain inconsistent in progress, as this side of the NBA is a legitimate war zone.
“But at the end of the day, we all got to be better. I got to be better, they got to be better. We got to do it together.”