NBA / Dec 11, 2013 / 3:30 pm

7 Reasons Why The Blazers Are Serious NBA Finals Contenders

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard (photo. adidas Basketball)

As the calendar turns over to December and the snow begins to fall, a month of the NBA season has gone by just like that. Just like Drake reminded us in September, nothing was the same. Teams that looked poised to make deep playoff runs on paper have turned out to be vying for the rights to Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins instead of the Larry O’Brien trophy, while teams that everyone overlooked are emerging as serious title contenders.

One team that has shocked the world this season resides deep in the Pacific Northwest. This team comes from a place without any glamour and glitz. Just hard-nosed, winning basketball. This team is, of course, the Portland Trail Blazers, who seem to have set the rest of the NBA on fire with an 18-4 record and a first place in the deep Western Conference.

Who would’ve thought with teams like San Antonio, Golden State, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers that the Trail Blazers would be leading the Western Conference after a little over a month of action? I didn’t. Especially since the Blazers haven’t been past the first round of the NBA playoffs since the 1999-2000 season. However, I’m starting to become a believer in this team and here’s why.

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Damian Lillard’s Emergence
If you had any questions about Damian lillard’s ability to keep up his Rookie of the Year production in his sophomore season, you probably shouldn’t be asking questions anymore. Lillard is averaging 20.7 points and 5.6 assists, while shooting 41 percent from the field (42 percent from deep) and 92 percent from the free throw line. Statistically, Lillard has been one of the top point guards in the league. Lillard is getting about 85.7 touches per game (compared to 95.6 touches for CP3 and 99.9 for John Wall) and is scoring 0.24 points per touch. Compare Lillard’s 0.24 points per touch to Chris Paul’s 0.19 and John Wall’s 0.20 and consider that Lillard is getting around 10 less touches than both these players a night, per NBA.com/stats. With these facts presented, Lillard might be the best scoring point guard in the league right now. Another reason I consider him one of the top point guards in the league is his developing ability to deliver in the clutch.

There’s a difference between hitting an open shot to tie/win a game and willing a shot in that’s heavily contested. To me, a necessary aspect of being clutch is the ability to hit shots in crucial moments of a game that look like they have no business going anywhere near the rim. Here, we see Lillard willing this shot over Marion to tie the game up with 1.9 seconds. (The Blazers would later lose on a Monta Ellis shot, but that’s besides the point here.)

To make a shot like this, you have to have confidence leaking from your pores. Lillard pump fakes Marion and as he recovers, Lillard is forced to double clutch a three-pointer and BANG, nothing but net. That’s clutch right there. Let me also point out the fact that Lillard is shooting 50 percent in the fourth quarter (better than CP3’s 42.3 percent) and he’s scoring 3.7 points in the fourth quarter, which is 10th in the NBA (outpacing CP3’s 2.7). He’s not the best point guard in the NBA, but he’s making strides to enter the conversation. In only his second year, it’s insane to think that Lillard is this talented, and honestly, it feels like Dame started the season slowly. (He just recently pushed over the 40 percent shooting mark from the field.) Believe the hype. Lillard is serious and is a large part of why the Blazers are sitting at the top of a very strong Western Conference

LaMarcus Aldridge Turning The Corner
Well, let’s start off by congratulating Aldridge for being named the Western Conference Player of the Week for his performances from December 2 to December 8. Aldridge led the Blazers to a 3-1 record on 26.3 points, 12.8 boards, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals. Aldridge also had a double-double (points and rebounds) in every game during that week. This is the second time Aldridge has received this honor this season (November 2013).

Keep reading to hear more about LMA’s incredible start…

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  • soleinthefrijol

    the real test will start in january when we have road trips in okc and other power house conference teams, im a believer and i do believe my blazers will do damage in the playoffs

  • 2cents

    No offense here, as I really would like to see the Blazers win, but your description was the same for the Knicks last season. Just slot Melo in for LA, and JR Smith for Lilliard. The bench, 3s and offense was all there for the Knicks and look what happened to them in the Playoffs…

  • oregon_fan

    Except LA passes and plays great D, and JR couldn’t carry Lillard’s jock. So, essentially, your comparison is horse poo.

  • 2cents

    Sweet! A trash talking Oregan fan and I think your comments are fair. But I’ll ask you how my a$$ tastes when they get swept in the second round of the playoffs.


    YES you should keep your 2 cents worth to YS, because 1st off I’m making a point in that your point makes no sense what so ever, LA Plays PF where Melo is a SF and JR Smith is a SG and Dame plays the Point, and New York was never considered a good Team to begin with, didn’t have a bench, didn’t play defense Melo, Smith are all ME 1st players and If you haven’t noticed Portland is playing Team Ball, and they haven’t even tipped the scales yet of how good they can really be. NY will never be good because they should of had a worthy GM by now, its one of the Biggest markets and they always SUCK. As far as you would really like to see the Blazers win well what would you call 19-4, Losing?

  • 2cents

    Woah, but of venom here, but I like it. You shouldn’t take this so personally. Lookie what I found here. Way back last year Dime called NYC Contenders and then look at my comments over 9 months ago! I said the Knicks wouldn’t make it past the 2nd round and I was right. So go and compare your apples with oranges, but mark my words, regular season doesn’t mean $#!/ come playoffs.