The Blazers had a relatively quiet week up to this point as they only played two games; one of them being a loss to the Phoenix Suns that snapped their 11-game winning streak. The Suns seem to be Portland’s kryptonite this season as they account for two of their three losses on the year and the victory against the Suns was only by one point.
Nicolas Batum summed it up best after being told that the Blazers don’t play the Suns again until April:
“Yeah, good … I don’t want to see them again right now.”
Sometimes teams just have another’s number and this seems to be one of those times. Yet even after this latest loss, Rip City sits at a stellar 13-3 after their first 16 games — a mark that maybe nobody thought they would achieve; at least not this season. How are they doing it you ask? They have adopted a different way of playing defense and it is becoming increasingly more obvious as the season plays out.
Here’s the formula: Hit more 3-point shots than your opponent, make your free throws, limit turnovers and do NOT give up 3-point shots for your opponent — the last point being key. Let’s break this down a little bit and show you how the Blazers are getting more points without getting more shots up each game.
Three-Point Shots: Blazers are third in the NBA in 3-pointers made so far with 157. They are also shooting 41.5 percent from deep, which is good enough for third in the league. Conversely, they lead the entire NBA in 3-pointers given up with a mere 85 3s hit against them this year and they have only given up 266 3-point attempts — good for third-lowest in the NBA.
Free Throws: The Blazers have attempted 269 free throws so far this year — good enough for 12th overall in the NBA. Where they win this category is their make percentage, which sits at 79.4 percent — fifth in the NBA! Not only are they getting extra points from distance, but they are outscoring teams at the charity stripe as well.
Turnovers: They have turned the ball over 211 times this season, good for 11th in the NBA. The ball is usually in Damian Lillard‘s hands; however, Nic Batum provides a nice point-forward option that helps limit the team’s overall turnovers.
Now that you know how they are winning — let’s take a look at the week that was.