After a string of good injury luck to start the season, the Portland Trail Blazers have been plagued by health issues these past couple of weeks. However, the team has gone 4-1 without some of their key frontcourt players — the most notable being All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out with a groin injury — and, according to guard Wesley Matthews, the spate of injuries has helped the bench players develop confidence.
“It’s kind of a gift and a curse that we hit the injury big when we did,’’ Matthews said. “The gift is getting people an opportunity to play and get real game reps which is something you can’t simulate in practice. You never know what is going to happen at any point of the season, so for people to already have confidence knowing they can play, and for us to be able to play with a bunch of different lineups and win is a good thing.’’
The box score from Wednesday night’s thrashing of the Brooklyn Nets gives credence to Matthews’ claim. Portland’s bench, one of the worst in the NBA last season, turned in a remarkable performance. Mo Williams scored 21 points, dished out seven assists, and snagged six rebounds. Victor Claver, who has only played in eight games this season, scored 13 points. Will Barton, who is averaging a little over seven minutes of playing time per game, torched the Nets for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Performances like that should give head coach Terry Stotts confidence in his bench going forward, even when the likes of Aldridge return and the rotation goes back to normal.
(And hey, when have injury issues ever hurt the Blazers?)
[Source: Oregon Live]