TNT’s Charles Barkley has been one of the biggest supporters of the Portland Trail Blazers for the last few seasons.
Despite Barkley’s backing of the team, each season they seem to let him down.
“I’m just disgusted by the Trail Blazers,” Barkley said on Inside The NBA Thursday night.
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In Game 3 against the Nuggets, they held a nine-point lead midway through the first quarter, before squandering it and being down by nine to end the period.
“We were not ready to play tonight,” said Nuggets head coach Micahel Malone. “They came out, punched us in the mouth. Proud of our guys because we answered right away, we went on a run of our own, a big run to close out that first quarter to get back in the game. That cannot be our mindset to start game four. We have to come out with a hit first mentality and play with a lead, instead of playing from behind.”
Once Denver overcame in the first quarter, they led the rest of the game, which included a 12-point lead.
As “disgusted” Barkley is, Portland’s defense is nothing new. They succeed when they’re scoring at a high clip and play average defense.
For the last few seasons, the Blazers have always been a great offensive team and below-average defensive team.
Since the 2017-’18 season, their defensive rating ranking has gotten lower from sixth, 16th, 27th, and 29th this past season.
They’re the only team in the bottom 10 in opponent field-goal percentage to make the playoffs. A clear indicator of the gap between their offense and defense.
“My team is just horrible defensively,” said Barkley.
During this year's playoffs, the team is top five in offensive rating and third to last in defensive rating. A summary of the Blazers in recent memory.
The Nuggets are currently top five in the playoffs in offensive rating, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and eFG%.
“The size of Joker over the course of the game took its toll,” said Kenny Smith. “I think early in the game when they had Nurkic in the game, he would take him outside. That’s what he’s been doing all year. That’s why he’s the leading candidate for MVP.”
Portland has struggled to contain Nikola Jokic. They’ve been able to decrease his passes per game by 6.6 from the regular-season to the playoffs, but his uptick in offensive production is what’s decimated them. He’s averaging 5.7 more shots.
Barkley may be realizing what’s been a reality for years in regards to the Blazers defense.