The Trail Blazers have looked like a different team now having won nine of their last 10 following Wednesday’s 105-98 road victory over the Utah Jazz.
Portland held Utah to just 12-of-40 from three -- a point of emphasis in Wednesday's game day preparation even if the Jazz were without Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell.
The Trail Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 56 points in Wednesday’s win.
But of course, plenty was made about the defense and how the Blazers are now on the same page.
Heading down the final stretch of the regular season, McCollum has talked about how teams always want to be playing their best basketball and be as healthy as possible.
The Blazers can check both of those boxes.
Which Lillard mentioned postgame.
Lillard added that when the team goes through its walk-throughs during game day preparation, it’s the players being vocal and asking questions and making suggestions on how to defend certain players and certain teams, not just the coaches.
With Portland currently sitting in the fifth spot in the West while owning the tiebreaker over both Dallas and Los Angeles, the Blazers control their own destiny as playoff positioning heats up.
And the Blazers are right where they want to be.
“I think the way we’ve been playing over the last few weeks has been just our best basketball,” Lillard said. “We’ve been defending, we’ve been sharing the ball, and I think we’ve been able to sustain that level of focus and that level of play for longer periods of time and tonight was the same.”
As Lillard and the Blazers look to their final two matchups of the season with Phoenix Thursday and Denver on Sunday, Portland is prepared to work for it, just like they’ve done season after season.
“We put our hard hats on, we a blue-collared team.”