The Portland Trail Blazers might have the worst interior defense in the NBA. So how do they have the second best record in the league through the first third of the season? The answer is simple; they just outscore you.
But how long can that formula work for the Portland? Currently the Trail Blazers own the best 3-point field goal percentage in the league at 41.1%. They also have the second best team free throw percentage at 81.7%. Both of those statistics are mind blowing for a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011. Offensively, things are looking up for the Trail Blazers. It’s on the defensive side of the ball that fans should be worried.
Let’s be honest with each other for a minute. The Trail Blazers are hot and have tremendous chemistry and confidence. The acquisition of Robin Lopez has silently been one of the best free agent signings of the 2013 off-season. But has he really brought the defensive presence Portland needs? The answer is no.
In their five losses, the Trail Blazers have given up startling amounts of points in the paint. Here is the breakdown of how points in the paint and second chance opportunities contributed to their losses:
@ Phoenix Suns: 52 points in the paint and 12 second chance points
vs Houston Rockets: 54 points in the paint and 18 second chance points
@ Phoenix Suns: 42 points in the paint and 26 second chance points
vs Dallas Mavericks: 54 points in the paint and 14 second chance points
@ Minnesota Timberwolves: 72 points in the paint and 20 second chance points
The truth is, there is hardly interior defense at all on this Blazers team. When the opponent has one or two elite post players, like the Timberwolves, I don’t see how the Blazers can win. Sure they can try to out-shoot and out-score their opponents but, again, how long will that last? There is a lot of season left to play, including what we hope is a playoff appearance. The Trail Blazers must work on their defense and improve it now. If they can do that, then we are looking at something truly special.