Depleted and depressed, the Trail Blazers picked up their rifles, gave a cursory dressing to the wounded, and marched silently towards Saigon with cigarettes ablaze.
I mean, wait a damn minute—to Washington.
They’re going to see a team almost as forlorn and weary as themselves, the Wizards—a fine mild lozenge to help the wayward Blazers step towards recovery or at least salvage the fleeting sense of self. But then again, that’s what many people—Vegas included—thought about recent visits to New Jersey and Philadelphia. They were favored.
Step back one year, now, the injury-plagued Lost Season. At that time, bringing home anything less than a 3-1 record from this same four-game Eastern swing would’ve been seen a substantial disappointment.
This is how far the mighty have fallen: a near-comeback against the checked-out Celtics that still resulted in a loss is toughed as a “moral victory.”
But I don’t believe in “moral victories.” Especially this one—with a sixteen point lead in the game’s final minutes Wednesday, the Celtics basically tuned out. They cared like high school seniors on Friday afternoon.
The Blazers have been that bad. And yet the Wizards are worse. They have not won a single game on the road. Perhaps worse, the Wizards are coming off a 19 point loss to the Raptors. That’s right. Toronto—perhaps the largest talent hole of talent in the NBA.
Maybe that’s the lesson here—in the National Basketball Association there’s always room to fall further.
(An Aside - If I owned the lowly Raptors, knowing I could not build a championship-level team in the cold Canadian snow—or even a decent playoff team—I would assemble a cast of all Canadian players. The lowly hucks would play for nothing but national pride. They would be horrible, but sell tickets. Someday a movie would be made about them, aggrandizing a improbable but otherwise meaningless regular-season loss. Instead of the Raptors I’d call them the Moose. If I owned the Wizards, I’d move the team—Washington is almost as cursed as Cleveland.)
Bahh, screw that.
The Blazers, who’ve lost five-straight for the first time since 2007-08, aren’t quite as bad as they’ve looked recently. Surely something is wrong must be remedied, but even with a hobbled lineup they’ve got more talent than to be falling short to the league’s cellar.
There a longer terms issues to sort out, but in the immediate perhaps a dash of Joel Przybilla, who hopes to finally return on Friday, will give the Blazers the emotional kick that line-up shuffles, Patty Mills and Sean Marks couldn’t.
The Wizards are equally lost and searching despite the solid play and excitement surrounding first overall pick John Wall, who’s averaging an impressive 18 points and nine assists per game. Aside from Wall, Andray Blatche and the corpse of Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards are basically fielding a D-League team.
And if Portland can’t beat that, well, forget the soul searching—it’ll be time to blow everything up and start again.
VEGAS LINE: Portland -3.5