After dropping three straight, the Portland Trail Blazers are hoping to get back on the right track at home against a Cleveland Cavaliers squad that has dropped three straight of their own.
Interesting enough, on Dec. 1, the Trail Blazers (20-18) defeated the Cavaliers (9-31) in overtime 118-117 off of an out-of-bounds sideline play that saw Nicolas Batum curl to the baseline three-point area and launch one from deep, nailing the three to win at the buzzer.
It was the same play that was called last night in an 115-11 overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. It was 14 seconds left and the Trail Blazers were down three having just come out of a 20-second timeout. Nuggets guard Andre Miller was guarding the inbounder Wesley Matthews and he jumped the pass to Batum, cutting off that passing angle forcing them to go to plan-B.
The problem was that plan-B never materialized into anything. Matthews ended up passing it to LaMarcus Aldridge and the All-Star forward handed it back to Matthews but he didn't have a clean look. The ball was passed around until Damian Lillard had to force up a contested three that clanked, ending any chance of winning the game.
“They had a feeling where we wanted to go,” Batum said. “You have to give them credit for making a play.”
After the game, Jared Jeffries said Aldridge addressed the team.
“He basically told the team that these games are games we need to win because on down the road, you're going to lose some games you shouldn't have lost and it will be good to fall back on these wins,” Jeffries said. “It's true. That's why he's the leader. He has to say that.”
“We let these last two get away from us and we got to win tomorrow [against Cleveland],” Aldridge said. “It's a must-have game.”
To be fair, during this losing streak, the Trail Blazers have simply played some good ball teams. It could have easily been four consecutive losses if they were to lose to the Miami Heat like everyone thought they would.
Too often we look for what's wrong with a team during a losing streak. Sometimes you just have to chalk it up to them playing teams that are playing well and who are in playoff contention themselves.
That has definitely been the case against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and the Nuggets.
The Cavs are finishing up the last two games of their five-game road trip having lost to Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Sacramento Kings.
Tonight's game will be televised on KGW at 7 p.m.