Well, the last game of 2018 is in the books. Thankfully it saw the Trail Blazers completely manhandling the Philadelphia 76ers, 129-95.
Yes, the Blazers ended 2018 on an epic high note, but the end of the year is always a time for introspection. A time to look back at the year and examine successes and failures, and consider the fresh 365 days ahead where one can steer their life in the direction they desire. So, how was 2018 for the Blazers? Depending on who you ask, 2018 was filled to the brim with moments of heinous humiliation, and/or grand performances and victories. Or as any true Blazers fan will tell you, it was a year just like any other (sigh)…frustrating?
Of course we all know what the problems are and what the Blazers’ organization needs to do to fix them, right? You know, fire Coach Terry Stotts, lop off limbs and rebuild, trade CJ McCollum, put Meyers Leonard in the back of a truck and drive him out into the woods, blah, blah blah. Does Neil Olshey know what he’s doing? Is Coach Stotts calling the right plays? Every theory and opinion is moot, really. No matter what happens, or what decisions are made, ultimately you know you’re still gonna love the Blazers. They could be the worst team in the league, and you’d still get that warm feeling in your guts and high-five your buddies whenever they win.
What does 2019 hold for the Blazers? Lets all find out together and enjoy the rollercoaster it's guaranteed to be.
The Blazers and the 76ers both played last night missing a piece. Maurice Harkless did not suit up for the home team, and Joel Embiid sat for the 76ers. Harkless is a great contributor for the Blazers, but we’ve got solid players to fill his shoes. Embiid’s absence for the 76ers was definitely a problem for them. His 26 point and 13 rebound average per game was a big hole to fill. However, the 76ers didn’t need Embiid to force eight Blazer turnovers in the first quarter. Despite the botched juggling acts, the Blazers managed to shoot 72% from the field and lead by 11 going into the second.
The Blazers started the second looking like a well oiled machine. Defensive rebounds were swiftly transitioned down the court into well executed blitzes to the rim. The Blazers’ shooting percentage went as high as 77%. The poor 76ers' went as low as 29%. Certainly the 76ers shooting issues were a testament to the Blazers’ defense, but goddamn was it tragic to watch. The 76ers bruised the iron so much in the first half they probably had to touch up the orange paint before the second half. The deft in the 76ers shooting reflected in the Blazers 29 point lead going into the second half.
The 76ers continued to clang-clang-clang on the offensive side. They couldn’t figure out how to buy a bucket even if they were the ones selling them. Their shooting percentage never got up over 40 for the rest of the game. CJ didn’t have a problem with that on the Blazers offensive side. He had 35 points before the end of the third. Coincidently, CJ’s point total was four points shy of the Blazers’ lead going into the final quarter.
With their 39 point cushion, the Blazers could’ve played defense with one hand in their pockets for the final quarter of the game and still won. The 76ers tried to enlist a frantic full court press defense to try and break the Blazers down but it was too little too late. Scotts cleared the bench with ten minutes left and let the young ones maintain the Blazers colossal lead, which they did with little effort.
Okay, 2019. The Blazers are confident and ready for you!