Under new head coach Chauncey Billups, Trail Blazers near league-worst defense still a cause for concern
Saturday night’s 145-117 loss to the Boston Celtics was just the Portland Trail Blazers third at home this season, but their worst defeat of 2021-22 so far.
The 145 points is the most the Blazers have conceded in a regulation game at home in franchise history as they slump to 11-13 through their first 24 games.
After Saturday’s seven-game slate, Portland is 10th in the West under their new coaching staff led by Chauncey Billups.
While the former NBA Champion and Finals MVP had much to say coming into the job regarding how the team would change but about a quarter of the way into the 2021-22 season, the team is still facing and attempting to overcome the same issue which has dogged them for the past few years.
This dismal play on one end of the floor oftentimes reverses the impact of the offense, which is not only ranked in the Top 5 this season but has featured among the league’s best over the past few seasons.
|Season||Defensive Rating (Rank)||Offensive Rating (Rank)|
|2017-18||105.7 (6th)||108.4 (14th)|
|2018-19||109.5 (16th)||113.7 (3rd)|
|2019-20||114.3 (27th)||113.2 (3rd)|
|2020-21||115.3 (29th)||117.1 (2nd)|
|2021-22 (24 games)||113.3 (30th)||110.7 (5th)|
It’s all gone downhill, as illustrated by the table above, since the 2017-18 season when they finished with the sixth-best defensive rating in the league.
A failure to turn things around, especially on that end of the floor over the past couple of seasons, among other things led to the mutual separation after nine years between the team and former head coach Terry Stotts.
However, nothing seems to have changed under the new head coach. It’s still early on, but a team with the kind of talent at their disposal should not and can’t be ranked that low on the league’s standings for defense.
They allow their opponents to score 111.7 points per game, which is ranks them 25th in the league. They rank at the near bottom of the rankings for 3-point defense, allowing an average of 14.0 3-pointers per game (29th) at an efficiency of 38.9 percent (30th).
These overall defensive numbers seem to plummet even further to a league-worst 119.1 when they play on the road, a huge reason for their abysmal 1-10 record away from the Moda Center.
For the team to make any legitimate postseason run, led by their All-NBA talent in Damian Lillard, their effort and performance on that end of the floor needs to see an uptick.
Otherwise, they might extend their NBA-best active playoff streak but will remain in the bottom half with just first-round exits to their name to show for.
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