After Friday night’s action in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs are sitting atop the standings in the Western Conference with a record of 9-1 after 10 games. That (obviously) isn’t a surprise, considering that San Antonio represented the conference in the NBA Finals last season, but if I asked you who was in second place in the Western Conference standings, how many guesses would you need before you got to the Portland Trail Blazers?
Well, now you would need one, as you know that Portland advanced to 7-2 on the season after their 5th consecutive victory on Friday night. The Blazers zoomed past the Boston Celtics (on the road, no less) by a score of 109-96, and they did it with the usual suspects leading the way.
Portland’s best player (by a wide margin) is power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and he was fantastic in this win. Aldridge had 27 points (on 11 of 18 shooting) and 12 rebounds in just 34 minutes, and he looked to be in complete control of his surroundings throughout the game. His rebounding prowess also helped Portland to dominate the boards by a 47-34 margin overall, and the extra scoring opportunities that arose from those extra possessions helped in the win.
In addition to Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Nic Batum, and Mo Williams (off the bench) each added 17 points or more, and this was an extremely balanced effort. Portland fought through “off” nights in the shooting department from Lillard and Batum (each shot 6 of 15), but Aldridge and Williams combined to make up for that, and the team shot nearly 49% from the field as a result.
It remains to be seen just how legitimate this 7-2 start is for Portland, but I’m extremely encouraged. They have always had the top-end talent with guys like Aldridge and Lillard, but this season, the Blazers invested heavily in their bench, and that is already paying off in the performances of guys like Williams, Thomas Robinson, and Dorell Wright.
Don’t look now, but Portland is back to being a very dangerous team in the West.