Terry Stotts is probably getting quite the laugh at my expense today.
Before the Trail Blazers beat the Celtics 92-86 on Sunday, the coach knew I was going to write that he should think less about making the playoffs with this flawed roster and more about developing, and playing, his young players.
As awkward as it may sound after such a nice victory, I don’t think Sunday changes anything.
The Blazers’ playoff chances are dim at best. With 26 games left, Portland (26-30) is four games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot. They have been leapfrogged by the Lakers in the past week, and Dallas has closed to within one-half game. The team is fading, not charging, having gone 3-8 in February.
The euphoria of Sunday will last only so long, probably until Wednesday, when Denver and the incredible Ty Lawson Show arrives. With March fast approaching, the Blazers' lack of depth has caught up to them. Leaning so heavily on five guys has taken its toll. We are finding that other teams are simply deeper, smarter, and better.
I applaud the players in the Blazers' locker room. They continue to find a way to play hard. They simply will not give up on this season. And neither will Stotts. It’s why this town should feel so good rooting for them. They play and approach the game the right way.
But as much as Stotts and many of the veterans don’t want to hear it, I think it’s time for a shift in thinking within the Blazers. It’s time to focus less on winning and more on development. The team is not going to make the playoffs, so it might as well learn something about their rookies.
The only problem, as we found out Sunday, is it’s not that easy to make that call.
Smile now after win over Celtics, but some tough decisions ahead for developing Blazers
Oregonian | Feb 25