It may seem early in the season to be putting the “must-win” label on a measly regular season game, but the Trail Blazers are officially desperate.
The playoffs are still on the mind for the Trail Blazers, so this game is crucial. There’s no more time to waste and it’s officially become a win/loss thing. The Phoenix Suns are now a rival of the Blazers as Phoenix sits a game and a half ahead of them in the lower western conference.
Devin Booker may be absent for the matchup which means nothing for the Blazers. There’s no excuses at this point. It’s do or die territory for Rip City. Outside of Booker this Suns team is very well constructed. The absence of Deandre Ayton has been unfortunate for Phoenix, but everyone else has stepped up and filled the gaps that remain.
Aron Baynes has had himself a career year so far, and the craziest part for him is the insane improvement efficiency wise. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio have also managed to fill their roles perfectly in Phoenix. Overall, the Suns have put together a nice roster and have had decent success, but this Blazer team is better and should take advantage of that.
Eight of the next ten come against teams below the five-hundred mark for Rip City so it’s time to capitalize on what’s next for the Blazers. The potential is there for this team to walk away from this stretch above five-hundred and safely in the seven seed out west, but they need to set the tone Monday night in Phoenix.
The importance of this game is more than just a notch in the win column, it’s a confidence thing for the locker room. It’s the trust in one another and an assurance that this run is possible. It always makes me anxious to put so much pressure on one player on a team, but with the way this Blazer team is built, everything starts and finishes with Dame.
Damian Lillard has become the face of the Trail Blazers over his tenure in Portland for never letting us down and expect that to continue. He’s a masterful leader and wants nothing less than to extend his consecutive years in the playoff streak to eight.
Monday nights action is about as important as a game could be at this point in a season and I’m beyond thrilled to watch Dame and CJ impose their will on the Phoenix defense.