Things are rough for the Blazers right now. A team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season and has championship aspirations this season, finds itself in the bottom of the standings.
At 5-11, the Blazers are nowhere near where they envisioned they would be at his point. Portland was sitting on a fastball, but the NBA gods threw a knee-buckling curve.
In last night's loss to the Bucks, the Blazers starting five consisted of CJ McCollum, Gary Trent, Jr., Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony, and Anthony Tolliver.
Two of those guys were thought of as fringe rotation players before the season, while another wasn't even on an NBA roster until earlier this week. Times are tough.
However, the Blazers need to stay the course. They need to stay patient. They need to stay Melo.
Carmelo Anthony has played just two games with the Blazers, but has shown that he can be a reliable playmaker when Portland needs him to be. In short, he offered a jolt of life to a team that felt like it was about to flatline.
Against the Bucks, Anthony dropped 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. He hit a couple of big shots, and his energy trickled down to the rest of the squad. The injury-riddled Blazers came together and managed to give one of the best teams in the league a run for their money.
If there were such a thing, this one would be categorized as a "good loss." Beyond the box score, it gave fans hope. This team doesn't intend to go down. But if they do, they're going down swinging. It's just the Blazers' way.
Portland has a stretch of four games coming up where they play the Cavaliers, Thunder, and two games against the Bulls. All three of those teams sit far below .500 and can offer the Blazers a chance to right the ship.
Damian Lillard (PROBABLE) will likely make his return on Saturday against the Cavs, and so might Hassan Whiteside. A starting five of Lillard, McCollum. Hood, Anthony, and Whiteside is far different than the team we saw in Milwaukee. For what feels like the first time in a long time, it feels like a lineup you can have confidence in getting the win.
Going 4-0 on this stretch would mean being just two-games below .500 heading into December, a month where you play 14 games, 10 of them at home.
By the time you hit January, you start realistically looking at the window opening for the return of Jusuf Nurkic. That alone makes the season start to feel a little brighter.
The point is, the Blazers are not in panic mode, so the fans shouldn't be either. At the beginning of this article, I typed that this team "has championship aspirations." Has, not had. Because they still have confidence they can turn this around. Everyone just needs to stay Melo.