Whether Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wants to admit it or not, his team is in a funk. Stotts, refusing to accept the characterization, perhaps because of its negative connotation, prefers to think of the Blazers current slump as the season working in mysterious, unforeseeable ways.
The truth is the Blazers are in a depression induced by uninspired coaching, an ill-fitting roster, rotation issues, injuries, poorly conceived offensive schemes, and one of the worst defeneses not only this season, but in NBA history.
Terry Stotts has been the Blazers coach for 9 seasons, the longest tenure of a coach who has not won a championship. He did get the Blazers to the WCF’s two seasons ago, and has got the Blazers to first round every year, but it has mostly been first round exits. Stotts has long been touted by many as a savant on the offensive side of the floor. Why then is the Blazers offense composed of mainly high pick and roll and Iso ball? There seems to be more movement in a retirement home than on the court in Terry Stotts offense.
We see rare moments where the Blazers move the ball, and get open shots, but they are far and few between. Mostly, we see a predictable stagnate offensive with players standing around as they watch one on one Iso. It makes things very easy for opponent defenses who can focus on the ball and not worry about rotating.
It’s a tough brand of basketball to watch and not at all the fast break, heavy ball movement, excitingly paced basketball fans were accustomed to seeing from the Blazers in the past.
The roster composition brings its own issues to hand. The Blazers smaller guards and forwards often lead to matchup problems with most teams. They have trouble defending and shooting against lengthier opponents.
The rotations are a mess too. Playing Kanter and Carmelo together in the front court is criminal. Powell needs to come off the bench to give the Blazers more size. The Blazers need to play through Nurkic more, which works well to open up the offense, but they oft seem to forget this.
And don’t get me started on injuries. Lillard is hammered by opponents left and right. Every game his foot is stepped on, he is knee knocked, his finger gets jammed, etc. He is never 100% because teams double and triple team him all game, every game without help. He has taken to just passing the ball mostly now as soon as he gets it.
Jusuf Nurkic came into the season out of shape, broke his hand, came back, and still seems sluggish and only a shadow of his former self.
CJ McCollum was having the best season of his career until Clint Capela landed on his foot and broke it. CJ has struggled since his return. His shooting percentage has dropped. He might as well practice shooting the broad side of a barn…not to mention passing when he goes against 3 or 4 opponents in the post.
The Blazers are in funky town and not the good one. Most of these problems will not and cannot be resolved in what ris left of this season. There are 14 regular season games remaining. They have lossed 8 of their last 11. They are a loss away from dropping below Dallas in the standings. The Grizzlies who they play three times within the next 6 days are knocking on the door too. They need to dig deep and find the will needed to starting winning. I don’t care if they need to listen to the Rocky soundtrack or a Tony Robbins Tedx. They better do something or they could slide out of the playoffs and play-in bracket all together.