The Dallas Mavericks got trounced again last night and the defending champs continue to struggle. The title for “Best in the West” is definitely there for the taking. Everyone’s preseason favorite was the Oklahoma City Thunder and they’re looking good at 5-2, but the best record in the Western Conference belongs to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers are 5-1 and even have a 10-point win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. It’s still a very young season, but can we crown them the early favorites to go to the NBA finals? Definitely.
Right now, Portland is playing the best basketball in the Western Conference, and I don’t think it’s even close. What’s funny is that it was really hard to see this coming. Before the season even started, the Blazers lost Brandon Roy, who had been one of the faces of the franchise for years. They are also still waiting to see a healthy Greg Oden. Everyone knew LaMarcus Aldridge was going to play well, but his health was in question too. The state of this team was way up in the air, but things have seemed to fall into place beautifully in the first few games of this season.
DocFunk offers up one possible explanation:
Men In Black imagery aside, there is something really magical about this team. They just seem to play really well together. I think everyone would agree that the Blazers were a decent team last year, well that was when they were 24th in the league in points per game. This year they’re all the way up to 4th in scoring. A lot of that is due to the high-tempo game they play. New point guard Raymond Felton is crazy fast and loves to push the ball, as does Gerald Wallace. If you haven’t watched a Blazers game yet this year, you should, and I dare you to tell me they’re not a fun team to watch.
But lots of people aren’t paying attention to the Blazers. They’re still flying a little under the radar, something that Felton has definitely taken note of.
“Not a lot of people are saying much about Portland,” Felton said. “They ain’t talkin’ about Portland making the playoffs. I like just where we are. I like us staying under the radar. So we don’t want nobody talking about us on the T.V. Nothing. Even though it’s a little disrespectful, that’s OK. It just fuels us. We are just going to continue to play hard.”
And play hard they have. Keep an eye on this team, they might surprise everyone.