Ask Dwight - Most impressive about Blazers?
PHOENIX – Never mind Wednesday's 120-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns, a loss that broke the Portland Trail Blazers’ 11-game winning streak. It had to end at some point.
At 13-3, no one expected this Portland team to own the third best record in the NBA and on top of that, sit first in their division ahead of Oklahoma City. Everyone knew that general manager Neil Olshey put together a much-improved roster over the summer, but this remarkable start has shocked the world.
Even its owner, Paul Allen.
“I knew that Neil had done a great job bolstering the bench,” Allen told CSNNW.com Wednesday night in Phoenix. “I was just anxious to get the season underway to see how things would play out, see how the different new players would fit together with our starters. You just never know. But it has definitely exceeded my expectations so far.”
Allen has been present at every single home game this season while sprinkling in some road visits. It’s a sign that he is fully engaged in his team like never before.
When asked about his perfect attendance at home this year, he said he’s just excited about the possibilities with this team.
“I was just really excited to get the season underway to see the new veterans, the development of Damian [Lillard], how the new guys were going to blend in. That’s what makes sports exciting, the change. Every year there’s change, there’s new things happening. I just had a good feeling about things and I wanted to see how they evolved, and it’s been really exciting.”
Head coach Terry Stotts, known for his offensive mind, has done a phenomenal job at fluctuating the defensive scheme in a more hands-on approach by extending his bigs out on the pick-and-roll, forcing teams to take long twos oppose to inviting points in the painted area.
Guards are being asked to fight through and get over the screens so that the bigs aren’t left to show so much as they attempt to cover ground on quicker perimeter players. This team has bought into Stotts’ new defensive philosophy and of course, the record reveals that.
“Terry has done a great job,” Allen said. “I always say that I’m a big fan of good defense and it’s definitely improved from last year. I think his offensive statistics are right up there at the top of the league, too. I’m really encouraged with how things have gone so far.”
Prior to the season starting, Allen refused to bite on if this team is a playoff contending roster. Reason being is because there’s a plan and a timeline in place for the organization that they’re not retreating from.
But if a postseason bid were to occur at the end of this season, Allen is all for it and he knows his players are, as well.
“It’s still early but all the [playoff] signs are good,” he said. “Especially our veteran players, they’re really hungry to get back to the playoffs. LaMarcus [Aldridge], Wes [Matthews] and Nic [Batum], they’re dying to get back. We all are dying to get back to the playoffs. I like what I’m seeing.”
What this team has done in such a short time is unbelievable and the proper people should be commended for their roles. Olshey knocked the offseason out of the park, Stotts is pushing all the right buttons and the players are producing.
We’re only 16 games in, but I think it’s safe to say that this team is for real.