The Portland Trail Blazers were able to bounce back handedly from their first loss of the season to the Washington Wizards in overtime, as they claimed their first road win against the Orlando Magic on Thursday night, 128-114. While Damian Lillard had his first 40-plus point game of the year, CJ McCollum was able to recover from a rough 5-of-25 from the field against Washington to his expected 20-point average against the Magic.
Zach Collins seems to be answering Portland prayers for a reliable big man. A lot of pressure for Portland to perform this year is riding on Collins having a breakout year while expectations for Jusuf Nurkic have fallen flat. Collins had a career high of 17 points with an incredible 7-of-7 from the field against the Magic and Portland fans have already started picking out China patterns. To really have Portland fans commit to Collins, the next three-game road trip will hopefully tell the Blazer fanbase what they’ve been wanting to hear for a long time; we found our third guy.
The Blazers will face Miami, Indiana and Houston on the road this week and all will be an excellent test for this new but familiar Blazer team. Miami has not made notable improvements prior to the conclusion of the Jimmy Butler saga, but a veteran team with playoff experience and a Pat Riley work-ethic should challenge the Blazers but still be a secured win. Victor Oladipo’s Pacers team has opened with a modest 3-2, but with reliable shooting and role players surrounding Oladipo, the Pacers are easily in contention for the 5 seed in the Eastern Conference already. The Blazers bench runs deeper than the Pacers and our perimeter shooting should not leave us losing against our ex-coach Nate McMillan. One last stop in Texas, however…
The Blazers will close this road trip at the Toyota Center in Houston against the Rockets, a team that opened the season with a bang (or more like a left-hook) from one star, and now the health of their other star is in question.
As the internet would not allow you to have gone this long without knowing, Chris Paul exchanged words, punches–and spit according to Paul–with the Lakers Rajon Rondo, which resulted in Paul being suspended for two games. His suspension will be concluded by the time they meet the Blazers, but James Harden ended up leaving his game against the Utah Jazz early because of a hamstring industry. He is now out for the next week with plans to be reevaluated the following week.
After an obvious bumpy start to the Houston season, this leaves the perfect opportunity for the Blazers to swoop in and go 3-0 on their first road trip of the season. And a 6-1 start for a team with a sophomore with promise may be enough to silence doubters who had already ruled us out for the playoffs.