Coming up to the starting line of the 2013-14 preseason, a crew of injured Portland Trail Blazers find themselves confronting expectations and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Mo Williams sprained his ankle. Dorell Wright dislocated his middle finger. Earl Watson has a calf contusion. Will Barton is recovering from a concussion. And the most disheartening of all, the team’s All-Star power forward, Lamarcus Aldridge, has suffered a quad strain. Amid training camp chatter of the team’s improved defense and aggressive attitude, the team is once again earning its moniker, “Frail Blazers.”
Meanwhile, the Clippers are getting ready to showcase their new talent, head coach Doc Rivers. This is the man who led the Boston Celtics to their 2010 Eastern Conference Championship and 2008 NBA championship. And
these are not the dismal Clippers of yesteryear. With the addition of a battle-proven Rivers, Clippers’ fans hum with eagerness to get the season rolling.
Blazers and Clippers most recent match-up found the Blazers at a 77 to 95 loss. The Blazers played poorly. The Clippers played well. What was to be expected when the Pacific Division Champions faced off against a team whose bench depth was nonexistent and who were reeling from the recent management and coaching overhauls? The offseason brought positive changes. Robin Lopez promises to complement Aldridge’s play; C.J. McCullom demonstrates offensive scrappiness; Thomas Robinson has something to prove, according to reporter Chris Haynes of Comcast Sportsnet. All in all, they are a better team ready to face a formidable opponent.
This first pre-season game will serve as an early predictor of how seriously the Blazers are about rebounding from their inadequate performance last season. The match-up is tough and the roster is dinged-up, but a quality showing by Portland will set a bright tone for the upcoming season.