Yesterday on Reddit, a fascinating image about every team’s performance during certain quarters was posted. The image broke down every NBA team’s plus/minus point differential per quarter. The Portland Trailblazers had a very favorable showing with this statistic, not posting a negative differential in any quarter – the first quarter was +0.6, the second quarter +0, the third quarter +2.3, and the fourth quarter +0.8.
By my count, they were one of only nine teams to accomplish this feat, something to certainly be proud of. Additionally, it highlighted what the eye test has said all season long – the Blazers are incredible in the third quarters. In fact, their average point differential of 2.3 during the third quarters was, again by my count, tied for the eighth best quarter out of any team in the entire league.
While there are assuredly many factors for this excellent post-halftime performance, some of the credit has to go to Head Coach Terry Stotts. He has dealt with his fair share of criticism recently, but it is apparent that during the course of the season he has made in-game adjustments admirably.
Digging further into these numbers, the first thing that jumps out is that the Blazers’ weakest quarter is by far the second. Sadly, this has also been readily apparent just from observation. It is, not coincidentally, also when the bench normally plays the most minutes, so the bench blaming that is also becoming increasingly more common also looks more justified.
Next, for as poorly as the Blazers have been performing recently, this allows us to see that on the season, the Blazers have performed quite well overall. As humans, I find our tendency is to give more weight to recent events, but the team’s season-long body of work still has to be considered.
Sure, if the team takes their current performance into the playoffs, they will be steamrolled in the first round. But, if the team can tap into what got them off to their 22-4 start, they are more than capable of making some playoff noise. And, as we can see from this chart, the team has the ability to do so.
Before the season started, I think any Blazers fan would have been happy to have the Blazers sitting at fifth in the Western Conference, with a record of 45-27. That’s pretty darn good, but especially so in this season’s historically stacked Western Conference. This recent patch has been rough, but as with anything in life, proper perspective helps. Let’s hope the team can turn it around in time for the playoffs.