Aldridge and Lillard Named to All Star Team
For the first time since 1994, the Trail Blazers will have two players representing the team in the NBA All Star game. During TNT’s pre-game telecast, the All Star reserves were announced for both the Western and Eastern Conference and Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard were named to the team. This is Aldridge’s third-consecutive selection to the team and Lillard’s first.
The selection of Aldridge was a no-brainer as the majority of national pundits believe he should have been a starter in the exhibition game. Lillard’s selection on the other hand was still a little up in the air. The Western Conference is loaded with guards, but with injuries to Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul, Lillard’s chances of making the team were greatly improved.
This isn’t to say Lillard didn’t deserve to be on the team. In fact, he has had a phenomenal sophomore season averaging 20.6 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. Other than Aldridge, he’s the main reason Portland is tied for the second best record in the West so his selection is more than deserved.
It will be a busy weekend Feb. 14-16 for the guard as he will not only play in the All Star game on Sunday, but the Rising Stars game on Saturday representing the second-year players. It’s a lot of attention for Lillard but it’s well earned.
Portland Gets Mini-Break Following Slump
The Trail Blazers have hit a bit of a fatigue wall following back-to-back demoralizing losses at the hands of Golden State and Memphis. Is this just a rough stretch or should players and fans be concerned of bigger problems to come?
The team has played eight games in 12 days including three back-to-backs. Yes, they’re professional athletes, but even they can get tired sometimes. A three-day break before playing the Raptors on Saturday might have come at the perfect time.
A little over a week ago, the team was riding high after two impressive victories over San Antonio and Dallas to begin a tough four games-in-five nights stretch. But since then the team has dropped four of their last six games. Emotions have varied from looking disappointed after they felt like they gave away a win in Oklahoma City, going through the motions before rallying in wins against Denver and Minnesota and looking downright tired and dejected against the Warriors and Grizzlies.
The biggest factor in the team’s rough stretch has obviously been the shooting. The team relies on jump shots and 3-pointers more than any other team, but the last two games have been their worst shooting and scoring performances of the season.
Portland failed to reach 90 points in either game and they shot an average of 34 percent from the field. Even worse, they went 10-for-45 from long distance. The 3-point shooting has been a growing problem. Not since the victory against Spurs have Portland shot above 38 percent from 3 as a team. This has resulted in more emphasis on scoring in the paint, which is very encouraging, but the team’s bread and butter is outside shooting and it hasn’t been there in nearly two weeks.
When your greatest strength is offense and it isn’t working, the defense has to step it up. But that end of the floor doesn’t seem to be getting better as the season progresses. Opposing guards are penetrating the middle with ease resulting in points in the paint or open jumpers for wing players. The normally offensive-challenged Grizzlies looked like an elite scoring team on Tuesday getting whatever they wanted from inside or out.
The Blazers have seven more games before the All Star break and five of them are on the road including a four-game east coast trip. Whatever problems they’re currently having are going to be tested even more next week. So far the team has answered just about every challenge, but this next week could end up defining their season for better or worse.
No Changes Coming with Trail Blazers Uniforms
The last few years in the NBA has seen a bit of an evolution in uniforms. From throwback nights to alternate colors to now sleeved jerseys, the league has apparently decided that the uniforms are in need of a makeover.
The Trail Blazers have been relatively tame in this regard. They’ve maintained the classic white home jerseys and black road uniforms with the occasional road-flair red alternates making an appearance and only in the last couple of years have they worn the “Rip City” home uniforms every once in a while.
But in an effort to gauge fan interest in the uniforms, the Blazers put out an exploratory survey in November to see if there was any demand or need to change things up in time for the 2015-16 season.
After looking at the fan input however, the team has decided against any uniform changes in the near future. The survey results showed that fans generally had no issue with the current uniforms, which have been the same since the 2002 season.
As someone who doesn’t really like change, I have no problem with the team’s uniforms. I do however wish they would wear the red alternates and “Rip City” home jerseys more often as well as having the occasional reversal night where they wear their road uniforms at home and vice versa for the opponent.
You may have noticed that Portland has been able to avoid the sleeved jerseys up to this point. But according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW, at the beginning of next season, any team wearing their “heritage jerseys,” such as Portland’s “Rip City” uniforms, will be required to have them converted to short sleeve jerseys.
The sleeved jerseys have been met with mostly negative feedback from players and fans, but I don’t really have a problem with them. When Golden State became the first team to wear them, I kind of liked the look. It reminded me of college hoops and some players just looked good in them.
The Trail Blazer uniforms are classic and elegant. There really isn’t any need to make any drastic changes and the fans recognize that.