Trail Blazers' Quarterly Performance Adds Perspective

Mar 25, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews (2) reacts on the bench while time expires as the Orlando Magic beat the Portland Trail Blazers 95-85 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports


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.



Tags: Nba Playoffs Portland Trail Blazers

  • ripcity_aloha

    Like you guys said earlier, there have been a lot of close games. And there is something to be said about that. Hot starts are basically begging for later criticism. Though Wes, Nic, and LA have been around a while this particular Blazer 5 are still very green. This is the first that they have been together. They are learning how to trust each other on defense, take care of the ball, make good decision, play in crunch time, and play against adversity. I think they are a bit exhausted physically and emotionally. We see the Heat and Pacers going through the same thing at the moment. Teams come out firing every night against the Blazers. It’s a lot of Lillard to shoulder.

    With that said, we want to see our team mature over night, which is not going to happen. If the brass are convinced that this 5 will be able to compete in the next 2-3 years, they will keep them intact and ride the wave. I am certain that as these guys (no matter where they end up) will continue to improve and learn how to win and close out games.

    The league is about making those quick adjustments. Something that takes years to understand, if you ever understand them. I hate to say it, and I hope that I am wrong, but I believe the Blazers will slip into the 7th seed and face a first round exist against the Thunder. And while it will sting, esp after such a scorching hot start, it’ll be a reality check for the team. I believe Olshey will bolster the roster over the summer, maybe even one big move.

  • Draftdog

    Those stats like any season long statistics are colored by the hot start. Stotts got the offense rolling early in the year, but once the rest of the league learned how to defend it the team has gone flat with no defense. So giving Stotts credit for that stat seams reasonable from that viewpoint, but the only stat that counts in the end is the final score. Give him credit all day long for statistical achievements but in the end he is still a lousy head coach. There is just way too much talent on that team to be playing 500 ball the second third of the season and wilting down the stretch.