The Blazers hit the road for four games and went 3-1 along the way. How does it make us feel? The Outsiders discuss.
DAN MARANG: I’m more than willing to burn the game tape from Miami. Like, remove it from all existence- a real cleansing type of fire. Which, would make Portland 3-0 on road in games where cities do sleep and a pretty decent haul from their first trip. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, (particularly in the first half of every game) but I’m moving perilously close to truly believing this Portland bench may be one of the best units in the league. There are two questions I had about that unit heading into this trip; 1. Could they keep it up? 2. Could they do it on the road? Well, yes and yes. Heading into one of the toughest homestands of the season, that ability to deliver from the bench has me feeling a little bullish on this Blazers team and their performance on the road goes a long way in helping me forget that game against the Wizards.
ALEX HAIGH: Well, I’m happy I was wrong about my 2-2 prediction! I can’t believe we made such quick work of Houston, and somehow couldn’t pull through against Miami...but, life and basketball are full of surprises and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The buzz around Zach Collins has grown (deservedly so), and overall, I feel like we have a pretty well-rounded team this year. That said, I saw glimpses of our starters struggling as a unit, which was a little scary. The bench is serving their purpose, but we need our main guys coming through for us when it matters most. We can’t drop games to teams like Washington and Miami anymore...we need to win out the rest of the season. 80-2 or bust.
JAKE MCGRADY: Well, well, well... would you look at that. Competent bench performance = success. Following the Trail Blazers 4-game road trip, I am honestly feeling even more optimistic than I already was (yes, my Blazers-optimism is showing). Last week I predicted that the Blazers needed to hit the first road trip of the year with ferocity, with success being only dropping 1 out of the 4 games. The team did exactly as I hoped and wished they'd do, with highlight performances from the guys I didn't expect (cough, cough, Biggie). The team is looking outstanding, the bench is showing no signs of slowing down, Dame is unconscious, and Zach Collins is going to be TROUBLE this year.
CHRIS BURKHARDT: The road trip went exactly how I had expected, 3-1, just didn't see Miami being the stumbling point. The other thing I didn't see coming was the bench continuing to be one of the Blazers strong points, and doing so in surprising ways. I'm talking about Caleb Swanigan. What a performance these past two games. He was thrust into action when both Jusuf Nurkic and Meyers Leonard fell into foul trouble, and he played so well Stotts had to keep in on the floor against the Pacers. It was telling that in Houston Stotts called for Biggie off the bench instead of Meyers Leonard. When you get a chance you better take advantage of it, and it appears Swanigan is doing just that. If he can continue to look impressive, as well as guys like Zach Collins, Evan Turner, Nik Stauskas, and Seth Curry playing well, then the Blazers may just have the best bench rotation in the NBA. The biggest question following this road trip is what does the future hold for Maurice Harkless?